Respected for presenting productions that are outside of the box, Theatre Témoin have garnered a reputation as being theatrical risk takers. Their latest work, The Marked, follows in their theatrical tradition as a piece that truly suspends belief, tackles many important issues and combines the genre’s of puppetry, physical theatre and mask work to create a truly unique piece of theatre.
With the production’s core observing the emotional weight of a homeless young male, the feeling of loneliness ransacks the space successfully. We are directed into a world of faceless and soundless humans; the only guide we have initially is our protagonist Jack (Bradley Thompson) a young and ordinary individual who seeks contact with normality. The convention of the Jack locking and popping in slow motion and quickly snapping back to normality is a beautiful yet sinister reminder of his dark past. This showcases the inventive nature of Theatre Témoin who begin to pick the surface and focus their attentions onto the mental frame of mind of our lead. You’d be mistaken for thinking that the entire piece will take place in silence; and that prospect is a very exciting one as the production’s set up is brilliant, however the silence is finally broken and we’re able to learn more about our hero’s dreams and ideas.
The Marked has an air of the mythological about it; the heroic figure battling many demons in order to achieve the ultimate goal. In this case, our hero seeks comfort due to his unstable upbringing. The mythological makes various appearances; the depiction of our hero’s mother as a monster is frightening, a real human being completely taken over by a ‘demonic’ presence. Her physical embodiment makes it clear as to what the protagonist is running away from mentally. There is constant referencing to Jack running away from demons and that he must make sure they don’t take over him. This contributes another layer to the piece as this in itself is the pre-cursor to his metamorphosis; he could either remain as the sweet natured young boy that he is or transform into the fearsome monster that his mother became. This is the joy with Theatre Témoin’s work, it tackles many issues in an unconventional manner.
The cast’s (Tom Stacy and Dorie Kinnear) interpretation of puppetry is beautiful. Puppets of a Pigeon and a younger version of the Jack are an absolute joy to watch. They are their own characters, they don’t have to speak but their actions speak a thousand words.
The company not only manipulate inanimate objects, they also become human puppets. The depiction of life sized pigeons is initially bizarre but comical and a stroke of genius. Jerky, vacuous, abrupt movements of the head really highlight the animal’s features.
The Marked is exciting, experimental, eccentric, thought provoking and leaves you wondering what the company will create next. 4/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
The Marked was shown at the Ovalhouse Theatre from Thursday 13th until Saturday 22nd October. The production will be showing at the Everyman Theatre Cheltenham on Friday 28th October. For more information on the production, visit here…