Vaults, London – until 29 January 2017
Guest reviewer: H. Hemming
A Year From Now is everything you hope it would be. It’s very clever, it sounds good, it looks good, it has philosophical messages. A true delight. Red Belly Black is a physical theatre company founded by Kate Goodfellow. A Year From Now is a verbatim performance using real answers from real people who were asked, amongst other things, “where do you see yourself a year from now?” The result is a truly thought-provoking journey which leaves the audience pondering their own answers to such questions.
The company staged A Year From Now at the Tristan Bates in July 2016 and they have brought it back with some new outlooks on life added in. On speaking to a cast member at the end, it was discovered that the people featured in the audio used throughout were friends and family of the cast. There is a huge variety in the ages, journeys and outlooks of these people but they really do provide genuine entertainment throughout.
Beginning by telling us a little about themselves, the performers then switch to miming and physicalizing the audio recordings of the people speaking. These people are normal, full of aspirations, full of troubles, full of hope.
The miming along with the spoken word is executed with such precision that we can be forgiven for forgetting that it is not the actors themselves speaking. Flawlessly combined with both interpretive and characterful movement, the piece sweeps along and keeps mind, ears and eyes engaged the entire time. At times the audio is a little too loud, but it is better than not hearing what is said, and it ends up enhancing every tiny pause or hesitation sound, so in a way, the volume adds to the overall effect of normalcy.
The aforementioned performer and founder of Red Belly Black, Kate Goodfellow states at the beginning that she is one syllable kind of person. We can’t help but like her from this moment on. Her ability to switch between characters is amazing, and she has a delightfully animated face, that draws us in.
Another performer that particularly draws the eye is Christopher Montague. He states that there is a time and a place for Chris, and a time and a place for Christopher. He seems more of a Chris in this piece, with some friendly, held direct eye contact, and a cheeriness and openness that lends itself to mimicking all his characters beautifully.
The company of five is very strong, with Jessica Warshaw, Oscar Scott-White and Clementine Mills all embodying the various narrations wonderfully too. Remaining on stage the whole time, all the performers share this beautiful journey with each other and with the audience. They are engrossed when they are active, and enjoy watching from the sides when they are not.
There were plenty of chuckles to be heard throughout the audience; a silent bonding of people all able to relate to the things that were said. A lesson we should all have learned, but is nicely reiterated here, is that we must appreciate what we have, because ‘nothing is promised from this moment on.’
Overall, this thought-provoking performance is wonderfully executed. The work that must have gone in to getting the timing spot on must be applauded. There were perhaps a couple of moments physically that weren’t as precise, but maybe complete unison is not needed – the piece very much promotes living life as yourself, so why conform? Mostly, however, the movement is a wonderful addition to ordinary words spoken by ordinary people.
These ‘ordinary’ people have such important things to say, that they certainly promote conversation. Good old-fashioned conversation, rather than technology based situations. You never know what you may learn from other people, and particularly from those of other age groups.
A wonderful, generous physical theatre piece, that captures desire and ignites imagination. A glorious journey not to be missed.