SURGE specialises in developing physical theatre and circus in Scotland. Their Pitch Event is a showcase for the acts that they have both worked with and funded. Melanie Jordan, their physical theatre practitioner, introduces the performers. (She also happened to feature in A Brief History of the Fragile Male Ego, Manipulate‘s opening show.)
First up is Gavin Glover and Adam Tompa with Some Enormous Vehicle. The vehicle is a dead whale, dragged and then dumped in the town square. It just so happens to contain a circus, though it seems that all is not well with the circus in the belly of the whale. Glover is a glorious puppet maker, and with Tompa as an actor, it’s fascinating to see the two collaborate to make this work.
Some Enormous Vehicle is an eclectic fusion of tiny and life-size puppets, elaborate mechanical props, live film and intricate sound design. The two have created a Tim Burton-esque world of sinister dealings and creeping despair. As a scratch event, this is potentially a section of a story and unfortunately it’s not always perfectly clear what’s going on. But the premise is great: who wouldn’t want to know more about a miserable circus lurking in a whale’s stomach?
Next up is Suzi Cunningham‘s EIDOS; it is part dance, part physical theatre, and part performance art, but wholly shrouded in red and set to a riotous soundtrack. All we see initially is a huddle of black plastic under a coat stand. From the huddle, Cunningham emerges with a flourish in a vivid white and red dress. She careens around the stage, seeming to teeter on the edge of losing control. Potentially obscure until a sliver of Sondheim and a costume change, EIDOS emerges as a piece about identity, the things we display to the world and the things we take comfort in concealing.
Two totally different pieces provide lots of food for thought. It’s brilliant to see SURGE and Manipulate supporting artists and the creation of new work in this way. Long may it last.