Sonder is a physical theatre piece devised by a group of young adults. It is about feelings of loneliness, and presses its audience to understand that people you pass everyday have their own lives. It focuses on the fact that you are just a part of someone else’s primary narrative, and they are just a part of yours. Sonder asks whether we are really all just on our own through various examples, exploring through movement, stylised physicality and dance, which adds a really nice flare to the piece.
The piece is predominantly unspoken, but accompanied by various well-chosen songs to compliment the action. The stage is also set in the round, which is a lovely metaphor for experiencing an interpretation of life from all different angles.
Most of the movements used to represent the piece are very well executed, in particular by Jak Jameson-Gray and Luke Bellas. It is very clear that these two have an excellent understanding of movement and executed the moves with a definite, yet delicate precision. However some of the other performers are occasionally quite clunky in their movement. It is clear to see that some of them try to involve their whole bodies in the movements, but this unfortunately leads to a lack of control which is sometimes not so easy on the eye. There are also some moments of subtlety that could have been made more of which would’ve added to the piece. An example of this would be slight movements when some characters are on the tube. Little jolts of movement really would have enhanced this section and demonstrated how in tune they are with the other performers.
In terms of the spoken word and acting involved, this didn’t quite match the clear physical abilities of the ensemble. The direction of some cast members had been laid on thick: with them being told to shout loudly, rather than playing anger – which therefore means that some of these moments come across as a little hollow. The metaphor used for isolating yourself rather than spending time with friends, demonstrated with the use of rope, is very effective, but it feels as though the actor is reading off the page. The social anxiety, fear and embarrassment that are felt around confessions of loneliness was absent from the performance, which is a shame as it is a lot more common that people may realise.
It’s clear that Broken Chair share very good chemistry, and on the whole they gel very well together as a company. I would be interested to see what they come up with in the future as they evolve into young artists.
Sonder is playing The Theatre Arts Exchange until August 18.