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Tangled Feet set a new benchmark at Pleasance


Review by Hannah Powell (IndieLondon reader)

FEROCIOUS physicality and a bruisingly emotional script combine to make Tangled Feet's first offering, Still Painful, at the Pleasance Theatre, a completely voyeuristic immersion into other people's lives.

Centered around the idea of different people sitting on the same bench, the cast explore three main storylines, through a well-developed narrative and plot.

The strongest story is between Mario and Emily, who love each other so much it makes you cry.

The way Emily's 'illness' is handled is beautifully done, and the tearing apart of their relationship is chokingly convincing.

The introduction into the way they meet contains as many moments of humour, as it does real life, as the actors accurately portray the feelings of awkwardness and embarrassing occurrences that happen when people first meet and are attracted to one another.

Mario's voice also cries out for attention as he accompanies himself on the guitar, while in the background other actors use his song words and their physical movements to convey their emotions.

In a complete twist, the relationship explored between Jonathan and Sara is purely frightening.

A chance meeting turns into an invitation, and then into a frenzied vicious attack, showing the dangers of trusting everyone you meet.

The ideas of blame and faith are apparent here, and the movement represents the anger and fear contained in each of the respective actors.

The relationship between the two does, however, need more variation in terms of wording and tone, but, nonetheless, is powerfully frightening, and you are left wanting to hold Sara and protect her.

We cannot chastise her for what she does, because, ultimately, he had us fooled as well.

The other storyline is that of a lovers' duet, with an extra.

The most physical of all the storylines, it contains an expectancy for news, the subject matter of which is left up to the audience to decide.

Encouraged by the excellently played, bitter bitch of the storyline, Alex, encourages Aly to find out what is wrong with Leon.

The action between the boyfriend, Leon and Aly is demanding and, in parts, surprising.

The actors throw themselves around the space, with little heed for the physical risks that they take, and their physical movement is the most representative of their emotions.

The panic that Leon suffers with the arrival of the letter is well built up and cleverly never reaches an affecting climax.

Lashing out in return, Aly attacks Alex, which culminates in a fight between the two girls.

Nathan Curry, the director, says of the company: "My aim was to make the piece audience-friendly, so many people could find an interest within it, yet still keep the performance physical and artistically interesting so that one could enjoy image and atmosphere - which I truly believe in."

With this in mind, I'm pleased to report that this definitely comes across within the performance.

The idea of physical movement, coupled with atmospheric lighting, sound and text, tends to attack the senses.

It is the kind of theatre that does not run in a linear line, but jumps from moment to moment.

Some may find this hard to follow, but the company are not dumbing down their ideas with this fear, but rather use other techniques to clarify.

The storylines are mixed into each other, and bring together the idea of the bench. Ideally, the play should have been called this.

Although not entirely faultless, Tangled Feet's production of Still Painful is cleverly done, with flashbacks, a simple and effective set and suitably atmospheric lighting.

The company has made their work accessible to the general public and, more importantly, enjoyable.

Still Painful played at the Pleasance Theatre at the beginning of December 2003.

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