Sunday 30 March 2008

NSDF 08 reviews - Lost in the Wind

With Lost in the Wind the theatre company Lost Spectacles create a series of beguiling, often seductive vignettes. This is the Fast Show approach to visual theatre. The problem is that these sketches don't really add up to much. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but what is frustrating is the series of false endings – the show contains at least three beautiful, poignant endings, one of which even drew spontaneous applause: the piece then carried on for another twenty minutes.

There was the sense that the sketches could have arrived in any order and achieved much the same result. Granted there was a vague sense of characters being introduced at the beginning and the sense that they ended up somewhere else by the end, but similarly interesting results would have occurred had the scenes been entirely rearranged. The company could make a positive virtue of this – offering the audience the chance to pick out scenes on cards before the show starts and thus determining the show they see. The closing image of the various characters each trekking through a blizzard is a strong one, but having the stage covered in shredded paper snow from the off would have offered an equally strong visual element.

Then there's the soundtrack. Former Noises Off editor Ian Shuttleworth once wrote at some length in these pages in praise of the soundtrack for Chris Perkin's excellent 2003 play Like Skinnydipping. His point was that using found music can amount to little more than a romp through one's iPod. Getting a soundtrack right isn't simply a matter of picking pleasant ambient beats. Yes, there were moments in Lost... that felt like the music was in some way integral to the action and the meaning. In a lot of other places I started wondering whether it wouldn't be quite nice to reset the thing to Handel or Nyman or GodspeedYou!BlackEmperor, for example.

All this carping isn't to say that Lost in the Wind doesn't achieve some very fine moments of affecting tenderness and drama. This is clearly a talented group of performers with a fine sense of what works visually. When they stop making vague commentaries on whimsy and dreams and start dealing with something that matters they could well be a force to be reckoned with.

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