Seen at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol.
This is an interesting exploration of the way barriers – social, ideological, political, linguistic and technological – can be bridged to create a dialogue. Funded by the British Council, it brings together Tobacco Facotory Theatres and Fundacion Teatro de La Abadia Madrid working in parallel to create the performance.
Essentially a conversation between two people who don’t know each other – one the evening we attended Hamsa in Morocco and Igor from Belarus. They are ‘present’ in a virtual sense via video call (projected on large screen) and their conversation and encounter is interpreted by actors in the physical space of the Tobacco Factory theatre.
The concept is exciting and has potential. It’s unscripted but based on conversations and some pre-agreed content (family photos and favourite music). Axenia, who ‘interpreted’ for Igor has great stage presence and truly portrayed his personality in her delivery of his responses Hamsa’s questions; adding real light and shade to some of the dialogue.
Elsewhere, the delivery was compromised to some extent by the very ‘organic’ nature of the performance; on stage interpreter Lena speaking over the video callers made it clumsy on occasions. And delivery didn’t give us the true sense of Hamsa’s personality. The use of white chairs to represent physical barriers on the stage was inventive, if overused and sometimes distracting.
Overall an interesting evening that went some way to helping the audience understand how two strangers could connect and how distance can be bridged and visions exchanged despite the barriers that work in opposing natural connections.