13 January 2016

Ockham's Razor's Tipping Point at the Platform Theatre was beautiful

Once again I have Twitter to thank for alerting me to this event and it would have been something of a disaster if I had missed it. I had seen Ockham's Razor twice previously, both times at the Rose Theatre in Kingston (where I live) and had loved them. This time they were performing at the Platform Theatre, part of the Central Saint Martins complex which dominates the view from my office window; the hardest part of the journey there is waiting for a lift down from the seventh floor.

It is only a two minute walk to the theatre unless you take a detour like I did. I had to eat something somewhere and nothing locally appealed to me that much so I walked a mile east to Angel Islington where there was a Wagamama and then a mile back again. Those steps were good for my daily count too.

The stage for Tipping Point was set (mostly) in the round and so it was easy for me to find a seat in one of the four front-rows. I went for one in a corner to get the longer view alone a diagonal.

It was one piece in several sections, running for a total of around 75 minutes without a break. Each piece used beams and used them in several different ways.

The mood was set with the first piece in which a beam full of sand (or something similar) was used to slowly draw a circle that defined the field of play. This boundary was treated with reverence by the performers who frequently had to pull themselves up short to avoid crossing it. Another game they played was to avoid the beams as they swung from their supports.

The performance was structured with a series of set pieces, usually with just one or two performers, exploring one specific aspect of working with beams and the ranges of movement that they allow.  These pieces were connected by group pieces that rearranged the beams and played a game with them.

The ending mirrored the opening with a suspended beam again spilling sand but this time it was allowed to swing to make a Spirograph like pattern.

Tipping Point was much as I expected (and hoped) with the movement being a combination of impressive circus skills and beautiful dance set to lovely music. It was gorgeous to watch and I was captivated by it throughout.

Then things got even better with the announcement that there would be a Q&A session with all the performers and the other creatives involved in Ockham's Razor's which obviously I stayed on for. This was very insightful in understanding how they approach their work. It all starts with the apparatus and each of their works has deliberately used different thinks. They then explore the physical capabilities of the apparatus and themselves to see what they can do. This creates the pieces of movement that are then put together to create the performance.

In this case the choice of beams also dictated the shape of the stage, a circle, and suggested that it be performed in the round. That information came in part from a response to my question. I had asked about the staging as the first time that I saw them we were able to walk around the apparatus and the second was presented in standard theatre mode. They liked the walk around mode, as did I, but that limited the number of people they could admit and the economics are always a consideration. We both agreed that performing in the round was a good compromise.

The other main insight was the use of the word "ritual" in response to another question. That helped to make sense of both their response to the sand boundary of the performance area and the way that they shared chalk powder between the main set pieces.

Ockham's Razor are a unique company and what they do is very wonderful.

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