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Credit: Spitfire Company
Credit: Spitfire Company

The Narrator, ZOO Southside – Review

Pros: A spellbinding debut solo performance.

Cons: This is a superb example of its genre, but the style may not be to everyone’s taste.

Pros: A spellbinding debut solo performance. Cons: This is a superb example of its genre, but the style may not be to everyone’s taste. There is a pile of bricks and a sledge hammer on the stage. Cécile Da Costa, a physical theatre artist with award-winning Czech company Spitfire, is holding a brick in each hand, her arms stretched to the sides at shoulder height. The houselights remain up as her amplified voice tells us, "I’m counting the people coming in late". She counts them aloud, in French. She counts the number of journalists, then the number of French…

Summary

Rating

Unmissable!

A peerless piece of physical theatre. Set, lighting, and live music integrate perfectly with a performance of formidable emotional power.

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There is a pile of bricks and a sledge hammer on the stage. Cécile Da Costa, a physical theatre artist with award-winning Czech company Spitfire, is holding a brick in each hand, her arms stretched to the sides at shoulder height. The houselights remain up as her amplified voice tells us, “I’m counting the people coming in late”. She counts them aloud, in French. She counts the number of journalists, then the number of French people, then the number of her unborn children. Three.

The Narrator is based loosely on Atiq Rahimi’s novel Stone of Patience about an Afghan woman who experiences liberation when her husband’s comatose state allows her to finally speak freely to him. When Da Costa brought the idea to director Petr Bohač he gently reminded her that she had her own story to tell too. Over the course of an hour both stories are woven together and conveyed through a visceral engagement with the materials onstage.

At times Da Costa moves with punishing slowness, then explodes with ferocious energy in sequences that call to mind Flamenco, and the movements of a matador. Her feet become a percussive instrument that joins with the live music played by Jan Šikl who is seated with an array of instruments behind a full drum-kit to the rear of the stage.

Rocks, clear stones which look and sound like shattered glass, and the bricks to which she takes a sledge hammer leave the stage – and her – covered with dust, the residue of the past. When she slides into a tank of water she becomes for a moment her unborn children, and sings a captivating Portuguese lullaby. The entire stage is miked, so that as she emerges soaking wet, the sound of every falling droplet is amplified, which conveys the water’s sensuous properties and the feeling of transformation it brings. By the end of the piece, the entire set has been transformed by Da Costa’s sheer force of will and what is left is a reflection of her true nature.

Creators: Cécile Da Costa in collaboration with Petr Bohač and Spitfire Company
Director: Petr Bohač
Producer: Spitfire Company
Music: Jan Šikl
Booking Until: 27 August 2017
Box Office: 0131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/narrator

About Alexandra Gray

Alexandra Gray
Alexandra’s love of physical theatre first became clear at five years old when she veered off script in the school nativity play. At the entrance of the Angel Gabriel, she cartwheeled across the stage crying ‘Yippee, an angel of the lord!’ and the Virgin Mary burst into tears. Following this auspicious start, she went on to study dance and theatre and is currently doing her Masters in English Literature. When not in the library or at the theatre, she can be found singing jazz professionally, teaching yoga, and growing broad beans.