Circus skills, Perspex towers and audience involvement are all part of the show, writes Rosy Moorhead

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.’ This quote from the 19th Century philosopher, author and poet Henry David Thoreau was the inspiration for the latest production by Ockham’s Razor, the aerial theatre company that is coming to Harlow Playhouse next week.

Not Until We Are Lost is a mixture of circus, physical theatre, story-telling and distorted perspectives based around the theme of being ‘lost’.

“We’re using the movement of the circus to evoke this story,” explains Charlotte Mooney, one of the five performers and a founding member of the company. ”There are six small stories that you follow, each about the experience of being lost, emotionally as well as physically.”

Audience participation is a key part of the production – the audience will be up on the stage, walking around, through and under the equipment to view the performances from a variety of different angles.

”They’ll move through the theatre encountering the different pieces of equipment and the different stories,” says Charlotte.

”This gives the audience the experience of wandering, searching.

”You look up at the performers and see the whole thing from underneath. In our last shows, we found that the most beautiful angles weren’t the ones you got face-on. From underneath, you get these amazing perspectives, it’s really exciting.

”The action is a lot closer than you would usually get, so you get a real sense of the speed, strength, the technicality and the danger,” says Charlotte. ”We’re all trained in circus arts and we’ve always been interested in showing this side of things. It’s real people doing these tricks, there’s a real trust between these performers and a real vulnerability – you really could fall. Audiences are really excited by this, and it’s heightened by having them so close.”

As well as watching the performers swing and leap about above your head, you will also be able to stand around an enormous Perspex tower in which the actors are ‘trapped’. ”The audience can come right up to it and touch it, you’re astoundingly close.

”What we do is very physical and if the audience is physically moving through the equipment and stories, being surrounded by them, being put in the dark, then they’ll respond physically too. There’s something about a huge piece of heavy equipment moving past you very fast, it makes you catch your breath.”

l Not Until We Are Lost is coming to Harlow Playhouse, Playhouse Square, Harlow, from February 5 to February 7. Details: www.playhouseharlow.com or 01279 431945.

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