Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Agnes and Walter is an incredibly touching piece of physical theatre that covers the emotionally extraordinary shared experiences of two characters in love that has a simple appeal based on a simple idea that is mostly effective in its execution.
Inspired by the 50’s classic film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Agnes and Walter – A Little Love Story is a physical theatre performance piece which explores the lives of two ordinary people in love as they explore the extraordinary daydreams they inhabit – together. This is Smith dancetheatre’s first full length piece, and they are a new company based in Norwich under Artistic Director, Neil Paris.
Considering that two of the dance performers were late to the professional creative table this was quite remarkable. Without being condescending neither looked out of their depth nor were weak spots in this piece. The performance also makes use of song through one singer and plenty of recorded tracks. These are fairly well integrated into the piece. This was a simple design with one shed, one table and a floating window frame.
This is an effective contribution to the genre of physical theatre. The productions seeks to bring a response to the film and delivers much more.
As a physical theatre piece the physical language was one which was enchanting and engaging, contributing to a lyrical physical narrative. My weakness was in the use of the singer. It was an interruption in the flow of the narrative that I struggled to understand. With my more than basic schoolboy French I was able to comprehend that it spoke of loneliness and fitted within the feel of the piece but for me it just left me cold. I was hoping for more dance and disrupted the flow for me. The songs were beautifully delivered and thoroughly engaging but felt more like an interlude than a bridge between two ages – the younger and the older.
The set is used to tremendous effect demonstrating the less is more principle as well as the best using the most simplistic. This simplicity gave the performers a perfect platform on which to create.
The best of this is the integration of the community performers in a piece of theatre that hits the highest of values taking their participation with them. It is an effective contribution to its genre because it delivers high quality physical theatre built upon a great creative contribution.
I think that the production succeeded in its use of physical theatre and I wrote, prior to seeing the programme or the press pack – If I have this right this is about the discovery of that person with whom you can share those embarrassing solo moments. When shared these moments define dual faith and on that foundation true love is grounded. A development of adulthood where advancement of age is comfortable rather than feared comes as you know you are never alone. Never alone with thoughts or the true meaning of our solo songs we are never alone. I think it succeeds pretty well there.
This is therefore a slightly flawed piece that has clear physical strengths that are somewhat hampered by the inclusion of one element that I found less than impressive within the context of the piece. There are many who may find the use of song to be more effective than I but for me it left me cold. It is therefore a highly recommended show.