Gate Theatre, London – until 7 December 2019
Notting Hill’s tiny Gate Theatre continues under AD Ellen McDougall to amaze and provoke. Where would British theatre be without these lab style venues where experiment and daring combine to shatter smug complacencies. I love ‘’em.
Continuing her predecessor Chris Haydon’s legacy of looking beyond British shores to Europe, McDougall has now imported the Danish company, Fix & Foxy.
Three years ago, a few of us were introduced to Fix & Foxy’s ways when they brought Ibsen’s A Doll’s House to London under the umbrella title of Theatre of Europe and presented it in a house in Kensington with a real married couple as Nora and Torvald.
Moving from room to room with expert and sensitive ‘facilitator/performers’, it brought new insights and painful realities to a much-loved classic. Never had Nora’s decision to leave felt more poignant or dangerous.
Fix & Foxy’s Tue Biering has also brought fresh realities to such other cultural totems as Twin Peaks – staged in a remote Danish peninsula with eight cars – and Pretty Woman involving real sex workers.
Land Without Dreams is described as a play about the future. It could more aptly be described as a manifesto for hope. At a time of extreme political and social uncertainty and upheaval it offers an hour of cheeky confrontation with an audience, second-guessing them on many occasions as to how they are feeling and receiving a woman standing in front of them telling them that nothing is happening or that raindrops are beginning to fall until the whole room is flooded and everyone in it is drowned. But nothing happens!
Another lesson in suspension of disbelief, or exploration of the nature of theatre itself, performer and audience, it shares the same kind of concentration on ‘feeling’ as opposed to cerebral/intellectual theatre, as Tim Crouch.
These pieces may be difficult, irritating, sometimes alarmingly ‘obvious’ but they also manage to dig further into what it is to be human, coming at us as it were from left-field.
© Cameron Slater, Terri Wilkey – the woman, `yes, I’m looking at you, what you’re thinking, feeling…’
So, Terri Wilkey, a young black British actor, stands before us in a yellow frock and tells us repeatedly that in the future, we have nothing to be afraid of. She fastens occasionally, with eye contact, onto certain audience members and builds possible stories around them.
She insinuates an intimacy with us which is all the more powerful towards the end when with a coup de théâtre that jolts us out of any dismissal or pre-conception of everything that has gone before, she reverts to a primordial state. Prophesies of what life will be like in the future become the world as we now know it.
It’s a brilliant overturning of convention, beautifully orchestrated by Fix&Foxy’s London director, Lise Lauenblad and bravely performed by Terri Wilkey, with knowing but not supercilious glances back and forth across the audience.
© Cameron Slater, Terri Wilkey jaunty, eyeing us up…
What perhaps is its most remarkable feature is that the whole remains with you, colouring perspectives and exhorting you to think differently about our world, to continue to dream, to imagine and not to lose hope.
And images remain: a figure reminding us that we are all the same, given extra credence entirely by the context in which it is delivered.
I’ll say no more. Just go and experience it for yourselves. Well worth it.
Unusual and exceptional.
Land Without Dreams
Created by Fix&Foxy
Written by Tue Biering
Performed by Terri Wilkey
Directed by: Tue Biering
Director (London): Lise Lauenblad
Translator: Sophie H Smith
Sound Designer: Janus Jensen
Assistant Director: Sarah Malik
Intimacy Director: Yarit Dor
British premiere of Land Without Dreams at Gate, Notting Hill, London Nov 14, 2019.
Runs to Dec 7, 2019.
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