Pros: Alexander Knott’s script and Zöe Grain’s movement design, which has been beautifully given life by the cast.
Cons: I was expecting more music!
In his interesting article “The Power of Music”, Oliver Sacks explains how “our auditory systems, our nervous systems, are tuned for music. Perhaps we are a musical species no less than a linguistic one. But there seems to be in us a peculiar sensitivity to music, a sensitivity that can all too easily slip out of control, become excessive, become a susceptibility or a vulnerability.” It seems clear to me that the creative minds behind Loop already know this very well.
Loop is the story of three different generations as told through their protagonists and the music they listen to. In the first act we have Woman (Lucy Annable) in her late teens living in 1960’s London. Looking for a change of scenery and meaning beyond the routine she leaves her mother’s home for Manchester. Twenty years later we are witness to the love story between Woman’s daughter, Girl (Emily Costello), and a sweet Boy (Aaron Price) keen on New Romantics bands. In the last act, set in the present, Girl and Boy’s son, Young Man (James Demaine), feeling an outsider at home and with a passion for electronic music, leaves Manchester to pursue his musical dreams in London.
The play has been clearly structured in three parts which evolve from monologue (Woman) to dialogue (Girl and Boy) and to a combination of the previous two (Young Man). This is quite meaningful as it implies a progression between generations that keeps incorporating elements from the past while also having a distinctive voice and style for each of them in the present. While I wouldn’t go as far as saying that there’s also an actual progression in the music (I wouldn’t dare to get into that argument here!), Young Man’s acknowledgement of his grandmother’s music brings a rounded conclusion (a loop!) with the recognition of previous musical styles. The analogy between generational and musical clashes is a clever, almost Freudian, explanation of how new musical genres originate as a reaction to the tunes of the past. Young Man’s electronic music is a brilliant example of this creative destruction.
The Woman’s tender account of her move from Manchester to London is the product of a beautiful and unpretentious script by Alexander Knott, which includes lovely sentences such as “her hair was sad” when describing Woman’s heartbroken mother when she leaves her home for good.
As their name indicates, BoxLess Physical Theatre is very physical indeed. Zöe Grain’s choreography and movement design, together with the music of each period, is expressive and full of vitality. The talented cast emulate with ease trains and buses, busy commuters and party-goers, busy pubs and a deserted factory. Props become unnecessary thanks to their eloquent and dramatic mimicry.
Oliver Sacks concludes his essay with the following words: “In the last 20 years, there have been huge advances… but we have, as yet, scarcely touched the question of why music, for better or worse, has so much power. It is a question that goes to the heart of being human.” Whereas Loop might not have the answer to that question either, it definitely drops some beautiful thoughts about it.
Author: Alexander Knott
Director: Alexander Knott and Zöe Grain
Producer: BoxLess Physical Theatre
Box Office: 020 8534 0310
Booking Link: http://www.stratfordeast.com/whats-on/all-shows/loop
Booking Until: 22nd March 2018. From 8th – 12th May at 53Two, Manchester.