Showing @ Festival Theatre, Edinburgh until Sat 25 Oct @ 19.30, on tour
Care organisations have been much maligned recently with cases of abuse and neglect. Gecko Theatre takes the core of this industry as inspiration for their latest performance. Initially we are plunged into an oppressive office setting, where two protagonists go about their work, cautious of someone watching them. This is no traditional plot however, and the action soon descends in to a heady melange of visceral movements, lucid scenarios and multilingual dialogue, depicting anxieties from their past and complications with the present.
The show contains some mesmerizingly exquisite sequences, achieved through the creativity of the choreography and the precision of the performers. The atmosphere is kept smoulderingly intense as the stage is predominantly bathed in the broody low lighting of a winters evening. Even during moments of light-hearted comic patter, the dusky shadow swaddles the proceedings with an ominous sense of foreboding. This feeling is enhanced by the horseshoe of towering filing cabinets that surround the stage like a phalanx of soldiers offering security but also preventing escape.
What director Amit Lahav seems to be implying with this beguiling arrangement of writhing limbs is how, when looking after ourselves, we can become reliant on others. The necessity of multiple performers for the movements – some portraying everyday activities – exemplifies this dependency. However, when a character’s body is fixed with puppet-string like sticks, we are shown how easy the transition from dependent to being controlled, can be. It is this darker side of care that stands out. The idyllic image of the homely and considerate care worker is no more, it’s now a corporate industry where profit, not care, is the target. References to neurological conditions, medication and health workers, are all tarnished with feelings of intimidation and impatience. The layering of numerous narrative threads can sometimes feel a little convoluted, making it difficult to engage in the piece. But any struggles with the thematic content are soon displaced by letting the compelling and captivating visuals wash over you.