Brighton Fringe 2012
"Lecoq-trained Rhum and Clay create a thrilling tale of suspicion and hope. Shutterland is a landscape of recorded voices and lost stories. When a secret is discovered, it reveals a hidden past. Through a strange and unexpected turn of events, one man finds himself running from the system he spent his life serving. Surveillance agents prowl the streets. Shutterland."
IF you look closely down the road leading to ‘Shutterland’ you will see the company warming up, cartwheeling and walking through parts of their performance; not because they are unfamiliar with what they are doing but purely as a warm up. For those who are unfamiliar with Lecoq technique, it requires much control and dedication. This dedication to their craft is apparent by the end of the performance at the Old Courtroom.
Thinking: how should I watch one of the best up and coming physical theatre performances in here, a lecture moon turned into a performance space? Simple, by lowering the lights, sat in the audience in near blackout, the space filled with four exceptional Lecoq trained performers. We are transported to their world, an uncertain world, undefinable and pleasantly strange.
Shutterland questions: What if one’s life was monitored and watched to the degree that all your actions and choices were imposed and devoid of free will?
For this troupe there is no need to fill the (small) space with set to portray this, nor is it necessary to have tedious costume changes for each character. They become a new character with just a shifting of an eye brow.
With a deep and apparent embodiment of the Lecoq philosophy we saw le jeu (playfulness) and disponsibilité (openness), complicité (togetherness) allowing the wonderfully choreographed characters to truly come to life. Of course there is the odd taking off of a coat or gas mask and moving of a floor mat. But, it is not laborious, nor is it noticeable. This show is slick and precise. Every movement worked out and every sound effect tried and tested.
In a absurd world reflecting the decay and conformaty within society, Rhum & Clay question society by presenting the ‘everyday man’ as Lublin -bowler hat wearing and hapless. Lublin is an office worker at the Ministry. The gas mask clad performers manipulate objects, set scenes in which Lublin can eventually find what it is he has been reluctantly sent to find in ‘Room 83’.
There is a sense of playful magic here, where objects become set as quickly as they become props. Quick, well timed movements allow the true intentions of the four buffoons rolling around as they present a mixed audience with an exceptional, well-constructed show.
Rhum & Clay have created a style; aesthetic within ‘Shutterland’ which will no doubt see them travel and perform to an only growing number of audiences. This show appeals to those with a knowledge of clowning and physical theatre as much as it would appeal to those wanting to shut off from the outside world for an hour or so.
True to the nature of what Jacques Pierre Lecoq’s teachings stand for, the style of the show reflected the technique of "via negativa," (never telling the students how to do what was "right.") leaveing the captive audience able to decide for themselves what is right in the world they are watching.
Rhum & Clay’s ‘Shutterland’ is the product of hard work, great skill, a VERY apparent love and dedication to their craft. The rising stars of Absurd Physical Theatre. Lecoq would be proud.