Lands, Bush Theatre


By Laura Kressly

A woman sits at a drawing table analysing jigsaw puzzle pieces under an anglepoise lamp. On the other side of the stage, another woman rhythmically bounces on a small trampoline. What starts off as just another post-narrative, young theatre piece becomes a satisfyingly layered work questioning subjects as wide-ranging as ableism, friendship and polarising opinions. 

Leah finds deep meaning and satisfaction in the process of assembling puzzles and seeing a larger image gradually take shape from hundreds of smaller ones. She seems to find the process soothing, and it’s an interest that has much importance in her life. She doesn’t like when others interfere with the rituals she’s developed. Neither does Sophie, who can’t get off the trampoline. She physically can, but mentally, she just can’t and doesn’t take kindly to people trying to help her. 

The two women follow a narrative journey that starts in understanding and patience, but gradually disintegrates. Within their relationship, you can see a growing fundamentalism, hatred for the Other and a lack of empathy. It’s easily compared to attitudes towards foreigners, disabled people, or those with different political beliefs. Though human kindness is present, it will only stretch so far before it will give no further. 

The absurdity of the choices gives the metaphor a sturdy malleability, though it takes a bit of time for this to sink in. Initially the story seems like a simple, Beckettian parallel but the cleverness of the dramaturgy soon starts to shine through. It’s a sharp and engaging piece effectively using post-narrative staging and an easy-to-follow script rounded out by widely applied themes. It’s no surprise this show’s come back around after its success inn Edinburgh last year.

Lands runs through 1 December.

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