Dublin Fringe Festival 2018
Playwright and performer Nessa Matthews breaks down the traditional boundaries of a theatre. Nessa addresses the audience, she laughs with us, she confesses to us, she tiptoes around anxiety and then boldly and intimately reveals her fears in the most honest of ways. Nessa lives in two worlds. One world is with us, the other is in outer space. Between confessions and spacesuits is a dynamic and moving play that will reveal why we all need each other so very, very much.
Infinity traverses a real and imagined space. Playwright and performer Nessa Matthews introduces herself as “Nessa” to the audience. She has removed the wall between us. She transforms her space. Her space is something to be altered. Nessa uses chalk and string wrapped around a microphone to form a compass. She inscribes 3/4ths of a circle upon the stage floor. This opening invites the audience in, it removes any barrier, it allows her to talk to us and even for us to talk to her. This follows a theme of the show, removing the anxiety, the nerves, the uncertainty, the fear of reaching out to someone else – of being here, now.
While she removes boundaries, her alter ego is an astronaut alone, and eventually adrift in outer space. This surreal wonder is formed through overlayed vocal text, Artaudian light and sound, an imaginative and highly detailed spaceship and suit and of course the actresses’ full commitment. The paradigm of someone who breaks boundaries is that they are often alone on the other side. The astronaut speaks in voiceover while Nessa speaks for herself; the astronaut cannot see us, while Nessa converses with us. The astronaut has a spaceship and wears a space suit while Nessa has no armour. Yet, her interior astronaut is an insight into the anxiety of being human in a world that feels less human by the day
The writing is spectacular, witty, fascinating and captivating. The parts of Infinity that employ less text appear more as movement and sound phrases than scenes. At times these phrases may go on longer than necessary to tell the story – nothing new is added, our wonder has reached a plateau. The piece mixes poetry, lived experience and vocal layering which is beautiful but confusing. The arc of the show, its forward inertia, its point, could use some refining. A clearer order of ideas centred around the script, not only visual imagery, could have provided a more pointed narrative; in clarity there is resonance.
Overall the show stands out for its incredible costume and set pieces, personable writing and most of all, Nessa Matthews. Nessa talks openly, she tells a childhood story, she talks to us. She is talking about something difficult, everything about her feels honest, it is easy to connect. After the show ends she gives audience members a hug. Each night Nessa is herself or at least a version of herself on stage. It is strange that we live in a time where being yourself is brave. She is not only brave but insightful, vulnerable and carries a message of hope: hope in sharing, hope in connecting, hope in caring. In short, Infinity is exceptional.