Edinburgh Fringe 2017
“Multi award-winning Ad Infinitum return with their hit show following an international tour, winning nine awards. Experience a journey of life, death and enduring love. After his wife passes away, William escapes to a paradise of fantasy and past memories, a place far from the realty of his grief. Returning from beyond the grave, Rose revisits her widowed companion to perform one last act of love: to help him let go.”
To set the scene, an old style wooden table is centre stage, an accordionist plays rapturous music and an elderly man sits in a chair. He looks sad, and wears a mask on his face. As he takes the mask off slowly, he becomes young again. It’s a magical way start this show! Suddenly an elderly woman wearing a similar mask is there, right in front of him. They meet and go back and forth as an elderly couple holding hands – then as memories reenacting their younger selves. William lost Rose a while ago and is having difficulty coming to terms with his loss.
It’s tender and warm seeing William in his younger days with his true love, which sustains him for a while after the delicate presence of Rose leaves him wistful, when time changes to the present. The story is told silently through physical theatre. The movement is rhythmic, graceful and followed through to the end of each gesture. Transitions from one scene to the next are seamless and well choreographed, sometimes with uplifting sweeping movement to a song when changing location.
Rose is strong in character and sees that the older William needs her guiding hand. They share wonderful reactions. The actors, George Mann and Deborah Pugh both literally breathe life into their older characters when transitioning into wearing the masks. The movement is completely economic, there is not one gesture or step too many or not enough. The physical storytelling reads very clearly through the entire piece. A beautiful moment is when they freeze and the stillness speaks volumes about William at that moment in time. It’s spine tingling!
Lighting supports the mood perfectly, with dark walls and outer edges of the space, and bright light in the very centre. The performers have lovely expressions and movement dynamics throughout the emotive scenes as the young couple. This piece is well written and directed by Mann – the pacing, flow from each scene into the other and build of the story allow William and Rose’s journey to unfold authentically and theatrically, in the space.
It’s clear that William and Rose were lucky in love, but their life together was not devoid of conflict and pain, which adds depth and dimension to the story. There are layers of meaningful moments and complex emotions that William and Rose experience, which are beautifully expressed. The effective paper bag colourful brown masks are detailed and full of interesting lifelike lines ands creases in the brows, created by Victoria Beaton. The seventy-five minute story is thorough and feels a tad long in the last part. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful show co-devised by Kim Heron, George Mann and Deborah Pugh. Sophie Crawford plays instruments and sings live to accompany the piece, she is onstage most of the time and takes part as a character in a few short scenes. Her presence is interesting because she observes the scene and walks into and out of shadows discretely, but she is not hiding either.
An excellent show, well performed, creative and very moving!