Review: Gecko provide a thoughtful look at the world of little spaces
PUBLISHED: 11:00 11 March 2020
© 2019 Tom Woollard
Review: A Little Space, by Gecko and Mind the Gap, New Wolsey Theatre, until March 11 2020
Loneliness is a difficult concept to put across on stage. Loneliness is not just being alone. You can feel alone in a crowd and conversely sometimes being by yourself can feel like a huge relief, particularly if you are always surrounded by other people.
So when Gecko posed the question 'describe how lonely feels to you?' to members of Mind the Gap, an organization designed to help those with learning difficulties, it was clear that they were going to get some interesting answers.
Those answers were explored in a series of workshops by the Gecko and Mind The Gap teams to create this latest touring show A Little Space. What they have come up with a series of inter-related tableaux which explore the lives, dreams, nightmares, relationships and obsessions of people living in tiny apartments, part of huge tower blocks, which are represented on stage by stackable, illuminated blocks featuring a single figure inside a small oblong rectangle.
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The set, at first, seems to be a large fairly austere blank space with a sink, single bed and a lamp stand but soon a small army of dancers/actors in brown removal men coats bring on and constantly move tables, chairs, a rug, even a television set.
There are a series of pipes which weave their way across the back of the set and a number of traps doors set in the floor which reveal flowers, gardens, the odd disembodied hand and one even swallows one of the occupants of the apartment.
The performance engagingly chronicles the lives of a number of inhabitants of their 'Little Spaces'. The flats appear large at first but soon their occupants begin to feel trapped by their surroundings and the furniture gets moved into a tight cluster around the bed. Also the wonderful score and sound design provides sounds from the pipes, from other parts of the building and even from underneath the floor.
It is open to interpretation whether all the stories relate to the same flat and we are seeing a series of occupants over a long time period or whether these are tales of individuals in different apartments in the same tower blocks built on stage at the beginning of the piece.
In the end it doesn't matter because it is quality of the performances which anchor us in this characterful, if slightly claustrophobic world. The performers switch and change as required from featured performers to the brown-coated removal team.
A Little Space is a challenging and thoroughly engaging work, told with humour and a great deal of poignancy and provides much food for thought on the way home.
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