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Tag Archive | "Joshua Tobias"

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Review: What It Feels Like

Posted on 24 July 2011 by Elinor Walpole

What It Feels Like, is Encompass Productions’ professional debut, just about to set off to Edinburgh Festival. The show got off to a shaky start, with the actors taking a little while to warm into their roles and the dialogue coming across slightly stilted. However, I was immediately impressed by the imaginative use of the very minimal set comprising a black door, a white door and three black portable walls. Complementing the set was a chorus of ninja- or grim reaper-like hooded performers, ‘The Aspects’, who used their bodies impressively to form parts of the set, as well as the emotional and psychological scenery, and performed some stagehand functions.

The play is bold, at times visually stunning with its command of physical theatre, and the concept is moving, at times easy to relate to and at others attempting to stretch the imagination. But there are moments that the script feels burdened by trying to express the emotions of the breakdown of a relationship without relying upon clichés – however rather than avoiding them completely it only modifies them slightly.

Not having seen the source play So This Is What It Feels Like, I’m not sure how indebted this ‘reimagining’ is, and how many questions I had about the storyline and purpose of certain characters might have been answered. The characters Simpson (Joshua Tobias Mills) and Lester (Paul Raymond) are the agents of conscience in the piece, stage-managing confrontations between the protagonists Nicholas (Sam Holmes) and Sarah (Ellen Gould) and providing light relief with their constant bickering and manipulation of Nicholas and Sarah’s confusion. I personally found the characters of Lester and Simpson somewhat annoying and a little confusing, and for characters with such a large amount of stage time they could have done with a little more depth, especially as the delivery of some of the comedy moments didn’t raise more than a wry smile. I couldn’t understand why these characters seemed to have personal feelings, unrelated to Nicholas’s, if they were supposed to be spectres from Nicholas’s conscience. However they seemed to have ‘done this before’ and perhaps were supposed to represent a more omnipresent concept, supposedly playing the role for any person in a near-death situation who needs to resolve issues with their lives before ‘choosing the right door’.

The real stars of the show for me were ‘The Aspects’ and the highlights of the show were an imaginatively and impressively choreographed car crash where ‘The Aspects’ used their bodies and minimal props to simulate the car and the crash in an expertly controlled unfurling of bodies; and a frankly steamy seduction scene, despite their sinister grim-reaper-like figures forming a large part of the action. I have to give credit to Joshua Tobias Mills and Ellen Gould for their central part in the seduction scene, performed with commitment and style.

Overall an interesting concept with genuinely moving and thought-provoking moments and great physical delivery, but the relationship between the main characters and the function of Lester and Simpson didn’t entirely convince me, although I enjoyed the process of battling through dreams and distorted memories with them.

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