Manipulate audiences may well be familiar with the work of Ramesh Meyyappan. In 2015 the performer presented the hit show Butterfly and in 2018 he is back at the Traverse Theatre to present the highly personal and comedic show Off-Kilter.
As the audience enter the Traverse 2 theatre space they will notice that the stage is set up a bit like an Ikea showroom. There is a wooden table, chair and a bookcase towards the rear. However, upon observing a wooden clock with a speeding minute hand on the back wall, there is definitely an indication that things might not be all they seem. Time plays a major role in Off-Kilter, with alarm clocks and a constant ticking sound causing the torment of our protagonist. Ramesh plays the tortured and anxious Joe Kilter. He arrives on stage in a rush, wearing a business suit and tossing a set of keys into the palm of his hand. He is a bag of nerves and clearly has a deep unease about himself and his surroundings. For the next 60 minutes this discomfort and restlessness escalates, where we witness a show that asks questions about compulsion, obsessions and mental health.
Off-Kilter is an imaginative and at times enchanting performance. There is no spoken dialogue and the story and emotion is fully conveyed by the movements, expressions and appearance of the protagonist. The solo performer does a great job of articulating apprehension, unease and tension in a variety of methods. Ramesh makes full use of props and objects, where pencils appear and disappear in an instant, glasses move without explanation and a letter plagues Joe Kilter in ways that only Ramesh Meyyappan can convey in his unique and delightful style. At times Off-Kilter is a magic show where sleight of hand is used to manipulate the psychology of the protagonist and draws the audience into his tormented and curious world. Off-Kilter is a truly inventive and distinctive physical theatre piece that shows how time, objects and everyday items can drive people to act and perform in distressing and disturbing ways.
The Manipulate Festival, organised by Puppet Animation Scotland continues until Saturday 3 February.