I doubt any of us have has the experience of seeing objects around you start to take on a life of their own, moving of their own volition and distracting from our daily lives. Because of this, you’d expect Teatro En Vilo’s Interrupted to feel a bit beyond-our-reach, seeing as at its centre is a woman who goes through just that. The piece, however, is far more than just a piece of magical realism, with its critique of industrialised work and casual sexism providing a social comment too.
Interrupted (devised by the company) is instantly theatrical, with a central square acting as a performance space for the four performers with props and costumes dotted around the outside. This is where we watch the life of Annabelle – an apparently regular middle-manager – fall apart as she loses control of the world around her. A remote allows sound cues to be played from stage, and any actor not performing watches from the outside in a relatively neutral position. Once inside the square, however, the style shifts into a grotesque, overtly physical style which, though we’ve seen it elsewhere before, feels fresh here.
Part of the reason for this newness is the slick nature of scene changes and honesty of the storytelling, allowing moments of goofiness to come out with performers unafraid to push ideas further. This is also a case of form absolutely following content, as it comes into its own as the piece develops and Annabelle’s life becomes all the more chaotic.
Andrea Jimenez Garcia’s central character is positively sane compared to everyone else around her, not least the men who become all the more buffoonish here. Her boss (Noemi Rodriguez Fernandez), her father (Fiona Clift), her boyfriend and her co-worker (both Philippa Hambly) all see themselves as superior to her, and are completely oblivious to her shifting mental state.
Annabelle’s changing perception is represented simply by having the other three performers move objects, ghost-like, across the stage, the demarcated square allowing us to also retrain the way our eyes respond to images. One scene slips into another with a precise fluidity, and the whole thing rises to an exquisitely created dream sequence towards the end before the final moment of tragedy.
Interrupted demonstrates that monotonous routines which lack autonomy can be the cause of a troubled mind and suppression in all aspects of life. By placing a singular figure in the middle of a mad world, Teatro En Vilo shows that our lives are made up of an inescapable personal experience in this bonkers show which forces a reevaluation of the control we have over our own lives.
Interrupted is at Assembly Checkpoint until 26 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.