The pain of grief and the delight of love. Both so hard to accurately put into words; but Translunar Paradise does it through movement (a mix of mime and dance), whether a gentle tap on the hand from a wife or the drooping of shoulders of a tired old man.
When William’s wife dies he retreats into inertia and memories, places in his mind where he can feel young and happy again with Rose. Eventually Rose reappears to William and helps him to stop laying the table for two people, slowly letting go of her.
I’d heard and read fantastic things about Theatre Ad Infinitum‘s Translunar Paradise since it began a sold-out run in Edinburgh. Sometimes that amount of praise can raise expectations too high and leave them dashed. Thankfully this was every bit as wonderful as i’d been led to believe. This is an exquisite love story, performed with simplicity, grace and sincerity by Deborah Pugh and George Mann (who also directs) as the old and young couple who move seamlessly between inhabiting old and young bodies with the aid of masks showing their aged, careworn faces. The soundtrack is as important, and Kim Heron’s ’narration’ of accordion and vocals suits every movement; just as important are the silences. The sound of air squeezed in and out of an accordion is a revelation.
Lighting is unobtrusive and carefully used and there’s no backdrop, just some pieces of furniture and a few props which the performers move about the stage. Costumes are very simple and plain, and the masks are lifelike and characterful.
I’ve never seen anything like Translunar Paradise. Without words, the despair of loss and the soaring arc of love are perfectly portrayed. A very special piece of theatre which will stay with me for a long time; I cried silently and solidly from about the fifth minute.
It’s on at the Lowry Studio 3pm and 8pm Saturday 10 September, then on tour of Europe (links to buy tickets are on the website). Please, go and see it.
- Hull Truck, Hull – 21/22nd Sept
- The Carriageworks, Leeds 23rd Sept
- The Unity, Liverpool – 27th Sept
- Redbridge Drama Centre, London – 28/29th Sept
- Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sarajevo Furture MESS Festival – 6th Oct
- Norway, Ostfold Region, Fredrikstad at St Crois Huset – 13/14th Oct
- Finland, Helsinki Masque Festival, Teatterisali, Stoa – 22nd Oct
- Rose Theatre, Edgehill University, Ormskirk – 11th Oct