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Si Rawlinson’s introductory monologue of Hand Me Down converges with the idea that the piece is not speaking to that of race, but that of connections. To reaching out to loved ones – particularly his father – in connecting stories, relations and identities. Although race is a pinnacle role within the piece, and is an undeniable part of our identities, I would have to agree.
Rawlinson, Saskia Horton and Helder Delgado’s physically rich performance is like a chain of informal letters that one might send to themselves. Poetical outpours of past experiences, historical threads and snippets of potent conversation that somewhat define the human we are watching. Additionally, these familiar stories bleed into the embodiment of these three dancers. Giving us an unpredictable spectacle of movement that we cannot help but be mesmerised by.
When I see that this piece is recorded on an ACTUAL stage, the thespian in me did a little dance. To see the capacity of space being so expertly weaved into, is a joy to finally see. Justly, as the actors are accented in their coloured spotlights we are allowed to see every flow of personality that ripples through their rhythms. Each colourful beam being a reflection of the tale they choose to tell, in a wonderfully playful staging practice.
It is with this that each story is bounded with an authentic individuality, and yet I cannot help but feel that I somehow relate to each and every one. I have definitely lost my mum in the supermarket before, and I’ve definitely conflicted with my parents about my future. It is in these moments where I see those desired connections. That feeling where although we are all separated by our uniqueness, we all share the same pieces of life from time to time.
Like the array of stories that are told, the assortment of dance is equally as abundant. I always have trouble defining what is physical theatre, but for this piece, I have come to the conclusion that it is to tell a narrative with your body. From popping, to Delgado’s insane break-dancing, glimpses of contemporary, and probably many more I have missed, this piece oozes physical expression. It tells a story in itself. And when watching all three talented movers command the space with their bodies, you cannot help but see their words on the stage.
The words themselves being a mixture of intricate performance poetry to that of anecdotal banter, radiated through the use of microphones or recordings. Again this mismatch of vocal tech gives different flavours to every scene, with notably Horton’s ownership of the mic being a chilling highlight in painting her story.
The title of the piece rings true to its contents. Hand Me Down feels like a personal recollection of family, historical and intimate teachings that have formed the performance and the person who shares their story. What we are given in experiences, we can choose to sew into our identity, but our bloodlines imbed us with who we are. In linking back to Rawlinson’s beginning monologue, connections are formed through understanding. Through the body and through the use of voice. All this runs inside the piece, not exactly symbolising that hand me down jumper your brother gave you, but forming a message of personal reflection. Inspecting the threads that make us who we are.
Hand Me Down is playing on The Nottingham Playhouse website until 11 June 2021. For more information and tickets, see Nottingham Playhouse online.