Lowry Theatre, Salford
At the Edinburgh Fringe 2013, one of our happiest discoveries was the physical theatre group, Idle Motion. We saw two productions – Borges and I (based around the life of writer and librarian, Jorge Borges) and That Is All You Need To Know (inspired by the story of Bletchley Park and the breaking of the Enigma Code.) Both pieces were extraordinary and we were disappointed to discover that they weren’t back at the Fringe in 2014.
Now here’s a touring production of their latest offering, Shooting With Light, which we caught at the beginning of it’s short tour. It’s the story of famous war photographer, Robert Capa (or to give him his real name, Andre Friedman) and his partner, Gerda Taro, who shared his passion for such dangerous work and in many cases, actually took some of the photographs with which he was credited. What I love about this group is their simplicity. A basic set of centrally placed translucent white boxes becomes a whole variety of locations – doors, windows, a cinema screen (presciently showing Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night), wardrobes, phone booths, you name it. As always with Idle Motion, this is an ensemble piece with just five performers taking on a multiplicity of roles. In a mixture of acting and movement they lead us into the dark heart of the Spanish Civil War and, intriguingly, place a mystery at the centre of the story – the search for a box of lost negatives that includes the picture that Capa considered the most important of all.
If I have a minor criticism with the piece, it’s simply that, so early in the tour, the movement isn’t quite as slickly choreographed as it will be as it settles in. There were a couple of clumsy missteps tonight and a slightly shonky moment where a rug was flung out of a window for Capa and Tarot to ‘lie’ on – the resulting effect, beneath a starry sky, was magical, mind you, but the transition, rather less so. I’m quibbling here. This is a splendid performance piece, engaging, atmospheric and ultimately rather emotional – both Capa and Taro paid the ultimate price for their undoubted courage and I’m not embarrassed to say that at one point I was watching through tear-filled eyes.
Shooting With Light continues at the Lowry until the 24th of April and then heads out to a series of locations around the UK until the 9th of May. (You’ll find full details on the group’s website.) If you love physical theatre and want to see it brilliantly performed, then I urge you to catch this show. It really is worth the effort.