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