@ Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh on Sat 6 Feb 2016
(part of Manipulate Festival)

How the Light Gets In is part of Manipulate’s Snapshots: Artists@Work series, a selection of free work-in-progress performances that offer an insight into the creative process of leading artists. Comprising three non-consecutive scenes and a question and answer section with creators Laura Cameron-Lewis and Shona Reppe, this is truly a behind-the-scenes glance at the production process.

The subject matter behind How the Light Gets In is compulsive hoarding and the emotional impact it has on a family. The stage for all three scenes consists of, on one half, nothing but a simple bamboo mat; on the other, a lurid green mat and a collection of assorted bric-a-brac next to an overhead projector. This contrast on stage is indicative of the two states that are explored in the pieces: the sleek, minimalist, but still meaningful elements of Japanese design and the complicated clutter of a hoarder’s space.

The pieces of assorted objects also create the scenery, as their shapes are projected on the stage backdrop by Reppe to create a Japanese living space, a window and the crowded hoarder’s home. The shapes are also used in a less literal way, with drinks poured out and water rippling on Cameron-Lewis’ chest as she talks about the rituals around a family member’s death. These projections work extremely well and, as Shona explains, the crew are only at the very beginning of discovering what they can achieve with them.

There are moments that don’t work as well. A song that makes up the middle of the three scenes is flat in comparison to the rest of the performance but, again, the creators explain that the singer will be Camille O’Sullivan rather than Cameron-Lewis and that the song performed on the night was quickly written in a day.

The third of the three scenes is the most clearly developed and has a huge emotional intensity. The hoarder’s daughter has to confront the emotional turmoil of entering her dead mother’s crowded home and the projections and performance are beautifully intense and suffocating.

This work-in-progress is a very interesting look at the beginnings of the production process. Cameron-Lewis and Reppe have created a great platform for what could be a very interesting performance. Once Camille O’Sullivan joins the cast and brings some of her musical magic and the projections are really brought in line with the creator’s ambition, this will be a very exciting piece.