Review: Beyond, The Looking Glass

25 04 2012

Facts blended with fiction, tears with laughter, light with dark. This was Beyond, a fully immersive performance which is taking place all this week in The Looking Glass, Bristol’s newest creative space on High Street in what used to be the front entrance to the Rummer pub.

Karla Shacklock is the brains behind Beyond. After being led from the Old Vic, we meet her standing on jars above the roof of Big Banana juice bar in St Nic’s Market. She is both our Pied Piper and BFG, as we follow her into The Looking Glass and memories stored within jars positioned everywhere inside the space form the basis of the show.

After her initial histrionics, Karla then takes a back seat and joins the audience in our promenade as five performers tell us some of their fondest and not so fond memories.

But it’s not quite so easy as that, as these memories are sometimes whispered and sometimes shouted, sometimes sang while standing on top of a piano, sometimes said while attached to a bungee cord, running through what was once the underground cellar of this historic pub.

Real memories I heard from performers Chek Best, Jon Bonnici, Isabelle Cressy, Laura Dannequin and Jarno Van-Es included ones about white hairs, marriage, children, first kisses and bleeding.

These may have been performers but they were real people telling us real memories. We were their confidants, and it felt thrilling either listening in on these sometimes dark secrets, ones which you would never normally tell a stranger, all the while as the performance and promenade continued with the help of minimalist musical accompaniment, energetic actors and disconcerting lighting.

A moving moment came towards the end. As a performer spoke about love while playing a simple piano melody, a young audience member had tears streaming down her face. When they embraced, the emotional release was palpably real.

Produced by Theatre Bristol, commissioned by Bristol City Council, and supported by Bristol Ferment, Circomedia and Arts Council England, Beyond is a truly extraordinary, powerfully unique theatrical experience.

Beyond is at the Looking Glass until Sunday. Click here for more information.


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