We begin with a tomb – a woman’s body lies in a crypt, shrouded. Juliet comes to mind. Three men come in, one by one, and find with shock that there’s no sign of life.
They then step up into the classic monuments that surround this scene, becoming part of the stream of history as they place their faces into the slots provided – just like at novelty photographers at the seaside.
But soon, the “corpse” wakes up, cooly removes her paper shroud, and has the men dancing for her, like marionettes at that very same seaside.
If you like to know “what’s happening”, “why are they doing that?” then Irreversible, the new production at the Camden People’s Theatre in London, by Song Theatre, is going to leave you seriously puzzled.
But if you are prepared to go with the flow, let the scenes wash over you, then there are some powerful images here. This is a play about life, death, the relationships that support and constrict us.
One moment couples are dancing, the next moment a woman is being crucified as a man throws his former bonds at her frozen body, eventually scarred, we find, with a horrible image of advanced breast cancer.
Beyond that it is a soundscape. The slow drip of water on to old, cold stone, the sudden jaunty outbreaks of traditional dances, provided by Sebastian Philipps and Valerie Renay is highly effective in manipulating the mood.
Of the actors, Selina Papoutseli is particularly effective in conveying the sudden changes in mood and time with the crook of an elbow, the twist of her head, but all of the men – Song Chang, Sebatsien Lawson and Jamie Wood, have their moments of grabbing the stage.
Together, they split and retie the skiens of life that flow through this play. It is raw and basic, but effective.
The production continues until December 16. Tickets £10/£8.
Read more like this on My London Your London: A Cultural Guide.