Theatre Review: Bright Black, 18 September, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

21 Sep


The Traverse One is a dramatic, steeply raked theatre and on entering to watch Bright Black the journey to find a seat at the front vaguely echoes the main character’s potential descent into the underworld.

This, combined with the simple yet incredibly effective set and the mood forming music playing as you enter, meant that from the offset the world outside is left far behind.

The play itself explores grief through three characters: two friends, of whom one, Claire (Meline Danielewicz),  has recently lost her fiancé, and a menacing messenger, Cerberus (Martin McCormick), from the underworld.

The deepness of the love Claire felt for her recently deceased partner is tenderly conveyed through movement and the use of props that remind her of him.

It’s an intense process that sees her lock herself away in her flat and the audience are sucked into the sadness of her world.

This emotional bond between the observer and the observed is reinforced by the third character, the messenger, who’s promise to take her to her boyfriend in the depths of the underworld seems a tempting alternative to the pain she feels.

Cerberus is a loathsome, physically powerful character who preys on Claire’s vulnerability. The tangle between the living and the dead is perfectly fought out, magnifying the darkness of loss.

Theatre company Vox Motus masterfully use synchronised choreography and movement to help tell the story. The script itself is tight but almost secondary and the visual elements are the main voice.

They also use clever optical illusions that bring props to life, adding a dimension that enables inanimate objects to reinforce raw emotions. At one stage the main character hurls a photo frame through the air in desperation and it appears to come alive, almost freeze framed, slowly making its way across stage only to be caught again.

This sounds complicated and almost incongruous but the careful use of these tricks of the eye adds innovation and richness, making it quite unique.

It’s an incredibly intimate piece that employs a wide range of multi media and perfect pitch choreography to present a portrayal that is both delicate and hard hitting at the same time.

This is a pain filled play that is a joy to watch.

Grant Gillies

Visit the Vox Motus website for tour dates.

Watch the trailer for Black Blue:


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