What Idle Motion does so cleverly is it delicately interweaves different perspectives of the same story. Those perspectives come in a myriad of forms from the narrative to how they manipulate the way we see it. That is absolutely the pinnacle of Idle Motion’s work: it develops and create images uniquely and creates memorable moments, making these through movement, staging, multi-media and a whole concoction of innovative tricks and tactics that lucidly dazzles their audience into goose pimple-induced awe.
The narrative line of Idle Motion’s Shooting With Light, is four strands plaited together into a biographical tale of photojournalists Gerda Taro (Sophie Cullen) and Robert Capa (Julian Spooner), specifically during their time covering the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. We witness Taro’s determined spirit as she endangers herself in order to show the world the truth, the death and the brutality on the front line of the war. To her, photography is a tool to capture a moment that will facilitate the promotion of truth. She is pioneering and independent: impressive actions considering Taro’s gender in that era.
We also see it from her lover Capa’s perspective. Unlike Gerda for whom photography was secondary to war, Capa was far more concerned with the artistry of photography. He was driven by capturing people in their worlds and capturing them beautifully, whilst earning notoriety and respect for that work in his own world. The love story between the two of them humanises their characters and hooks us in empathetically to their story. With the inconceivable world of warfare providing the framework of the narrative, having it strung together by something as powerfully relatable as love creates a flawless balance.
The fourth and final strand fast-forwards to Capa’s brother, Cornell (Nathan Parkinson), and his assistant, June (Grace Chapman), piecing together the body of Capa’s work to display as his legacy. They are missing one case of negatives, the hunt for which drives them half crazy. This strand resonates particularly because it shows us the immortality of photography and, by proxy, the photographer.
The beauty of Shooting with Light is that at its heart it tells of the power of photography. How an image can evoke, declare, provide evidence or the timeline of a life, a death or the trajectory of the world at a point in time. With Shooting with Light, Idle Motion explains the influence of image with imagery, and that is a beautiful way to craft a tale. The staging and design are captivating. Comprised, predominantly, of a white box, taking up the majority of the stage, it is used as a projection screen, drawers, windows, doors, phone booths and even a bed beneath the stars. It is fluid, imaginative and gave the performance, for me, a lucid dream feel, like I, personally, was transported by the narrative and given their world on a plate.
This fluidity is continued by the ensemble cast: they use movement to smoothly portray everything from falling in love to death. They are far stronger as an ensemble than individually. It would be fair to say that for Idle Motion, acting isn’t a priority, nor does it need to be when the use of movement and design goes way beyond impeccable to the invention of an entirely new world. The only area where it seemed to jar was with my inability to forge a sympathetic connection to the Gerda Taro character. Cullen’s performance was a little over-stylised with longing looks into the distance and a detachment from emotion.
Idle Motion has once again proven that stories are there ready in the world to be told and it’s not a case of whether or not you see them, it’s how you see them and most importantly, how you tell them.
Shooting with Light is playing at New Diorama until 11 April. For tickets and more information, see the New Diorama website. Photo by Richard Davenport.