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Wednesday 02 May 2012
Words Spindle

EMPTINETS is the first production of performance artists Beetle and Bird, devised as their degree show for the Performance and Visual Art BA at the University of Brighton. Beetle and Bird are a two-woman troupe, whose production combines theatre, live music and sculpture. EMPTINETS plays out on an expressionist set which hints at a windswept coastline and a tumbledown shack, and the experience is multisensory – the sour smell of fish assaulting the audience as they take their seats, before the distant rumbling of waves and driving rain announces the start of the show.

The play begins with a stooped fisherman, wrapped heavily in rope, pulling a motionless woman behind him. As he places her unceremoniously on a bed, the rope forms the apron of the stage. It is the ingenious use of props such as this which demonstrates the finesse of the production. Areas of the stage fade in and out of the darkness as the tale of the fisherman and his wife unfolds, and intricate lighting design conjures towering shadows, oppressive cages and, at one point, a particularly effective rendering of 8mm film stock.

EMPTINETS is a mournful tale of loss, loneliness and the creeping inevitability of life. In its abstraction, however, the piece ensures that these elements are never a burden on the audience, nor too forcefully played out. Rather, through beautiful monologues and songs, and subtle yet often comic performances in which characters overlap and merge into one another, emotions are elicited from the audience almost by surprise. Further, the set is powerfully claustrophobic, and evokes a world that disappeared a long time ago, or may never have existed at all…

It seems Beetle and Bird may be ones to watch in the future, so keep an ear to the ground and an eye peeled for further performances by this exciting and promising young duo.

Words: Jack Casey