Four women gently sway in synchronised formation. Fledglings all, they slowly test their bodies’ capability for movement, voice and comprehension. Gradually, under Laura Burns’ instruction, they adopt new positions; learning and growing and exploring. Using simple sounds they start to create a haunting dissonance, a hypnotic calmness as they continue to sway. Wishbone begins to take on a trance-like state, an introspective investigation into ‘the places we inhabit.’
Burns is at the head of the creative piece – a contemporary movement production that transforms into an exploration of the self and the world around. The Earth is the focus, the ground, the dirt and the rock that all humanity sit atop of. Eventually when the time comes, Burns is the leader, the first to break away from the comfort of repetition and the sense of the collective. Taking centre stage, she investigates her independence and her variety. From a trembling hand to a trembling voice she tests new physical movements in conjunction with vocal explanation. She is new to this and not always in control; it seems as though her body sometimes runs away with itself and her voice sticks, a continuous tick, a scratch on a record. “It’s trying to…”
Her companions take their cues from her – Jo Blake Cave, Jo Hellier and Simone Kenyon begin to build a frustrated, almost frantic energy. As the atmosphere builds, there is a nervous excitement when each becomes the individual – the self. If the beginning can be thought of as slow, gradual and a bit too drawn out, the final part of the movement piece is a climax. The movements in the latter part of the piece are jerky, physical and exuberant. That is until they return to stasis, bent over and out of steam for the exertions of their new discoveries.
The second part of the show seems to explore the imagination. Discussions around the earth and about how it exists and what holds it together ensue. The language makes the inanimate seem almost sentient; as stones are ground and balls are bounced, the four performers debate what is underneath it all. This has the same slow build as the first half, as Kenyon and Cave take the lead in an almost Q&A session that starts factual and quickly descends into an energetic shouting contest. The final climax is one of pitch, of tone, of dynamic. A ringing, vibrant, chromatic ascension that leaves the audience with ringing ears and buzzing bones.
Wishbone looks to ‘balance intuition and rationale, conviction and doubt’. There is indeed a balance that needs to be struck in this production, one between slow, calming sections of discovery vs. the climactic, energetic inquisitive pieces. Sometimes the slow is a touch too lethargic and the quick burns too fast. But the ringing that ends the play remains in the ears of the audience – metallic yet warm.
Wishbone played The Yard Theatre, Hackney Wick until 14 May 2016 as part of NOW ’16 Festival. For more information and future shows, see www.theyardtheatre.co.uk/event/now16/
Photo: Jake Lewis