Studio Theatre, The Lowry
Atresbandes are a young theatre company from Barcelona and ‘Locus Amoenus’ is a term used to describe an idealised paradise, something that we all long for, even though our personal interpretations of such a paradise may differ wildly. We catch the company’s latest production towards the start of their UK tour and we’re very impressed with what we see.
The simple set represents the interior of a train and as the three actors take their seats, we’re informed, via a screen at the back of the set, that they are all going to die in a freak accident in one hour. As the action unfolds we’re horribly aware that time is rapidly running out for them. If this sounds dour, don’t be misled, because what follows is a sprightly mixture of techniques, much of it performed without dialogue and often laugh-out-loud funny. Microphones are placed around the set to emphasise sounds – a sequence where one character repeatedly zips and unzips the various compartments of her rucksack is particularly effective and much milage is made from the fact that one character speaks only English, one only Spanish and the third is bi lingual and has to act as an interpreter for the other two. The piece is beautifully precise and understated – incidents that seem at first baffling, are explained as the action progresses. As the clock ticks inexorably away, a countdown appears on the screen and the final stretch becomes almost unbearably suspenseful.
This is accomplished theatre that deserves a wider audience. Atresbandes will be at the Gulbenkian, Canterbury on the 29th January and can be seen thereafter at the Warwick Arts Centre, The Hub Leeds, Lighthouse Poole, the Square Chapel Halifax and the Derby Theatre. They will finish their tour with three days at the Camden People’s Theatre on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of March. If you’re close to any of these venues and you fancy something a little out of the ordinary, do take the opportunity to see this delightful production. You won’t be disappointed.