Having just seen the New Diorama’s play Down And Out In Paris last week at the Greenwich Theatre, it’s safe to say they are a powerhouse. Artistic Director David Byrne is creating physical and creative pieces, and Voyager is no different. Idle Motion (who also staged The State We’re In) is a loving ensemble who have created a story inspired by the Golden Record. Carrie’s mother and father met whilst compiling said record, and when an opportunity arises to go into space, Carrie sees it as an opportunity to get closer to her mother after she recently passed away.
The ensemble work well together, which makes the heart of the piece. Carrie (Grace Chapman) is a strong modern woman, making her wat along our tumultuous route, hand in hand with us. Her partner Ben (Julian Spooner) is strong and supportive, whilst Spooner is hilarious with his multi-roling. The cast flip in and out of different characters, creating soundscapes and movement tableaux that transport us along with Carrie.
The design (Ellen Nabarro) is impressive: the back wall is covered with hatches and doors, whilst minimal and effective sets are moved seamlessly. The projection (by Kate Stanley) settles on it nicely, all complemented by the cast committing to different areas of time and space, meaning we swing in and out of space with Carrie’s thoughts. The soundtrack (Chris Bartholomew) is like a film, playing our emotions well and telling the story effectively – in fact there is little need for words sometimes. While snippets of scenes move the story along, the ensemble do well to tell us everything we need without speech; nevertheless, when Catherine’s voice (Karen Ascoe) comes from the tape machine it halts our hearts.
The meaning of the piece remains clear, but if nothing more Idle Motion are master storytellers of our generation. Their creativity knows no bounds and although I was worried the piece wouldn’t mean anything to me, its universal messages ring clear. True, it is not as polished as it could have been. They are not dancers, which means sometimes their awkward limbs overshadow the fluidity of the movements. Even at points, the acting is over-zealous and jokes are try-hard. But their storytelling is always touching and truthful. I can tell this is New Diorama’s forte – there are no frills attached, just a drive to tell an honest story. It is a simple and effective equation. The marrying of projection, movement, action and actors’ commitment tells a story that we are interested in and want to watch. Those characters are taken on a journey and we watch it live in front of our faces. That’s basically all you can ever want from theatre.
Voyager is playing at the New Diorama Theatre until 11 June. For more information and tickets, see the New Diorama Theatre. Photo: Tom Savage