The Spirit part 1: The Camel, Battersea Arts Centre

Image result for the spirit, thibault delferiere

by Euan Vincent

Accompanying the first performance of Thibault Delferiere’s trilogy (directed by Jack McNamara), is a side of A4 paper containing three quotes from Nietzsche. They depict a journey through three transmutations: the spirit as camel, the spirit as lion, the spirit as baby. Like the camel, the spirit desires to burden itself and takes on heavy loads. Once laden it transforms into a lion – where it’s power and destructiveness can create the space for the new. And in that space, the baby emerges –  wide-eyed and forgetful, the spirit can now create unencumbered. That is the journey that the trilogy promises to traverse.

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Possibilities, Theatre N16

What if your life has endless parallel possibilities? What if Sliding Doors is true? What if every choice you make leads to your timeline fracturing into endless paths that just keeps multiplying? Possibilities frames this proposal with two people, displaying nearly an hour’s worth of incarnations of their relationship. It’s a nice idea, but one that doesn’t develop any of the individual moments or stories presented. With inconsistent performances and an idea that isn’t fully explored, Possibilities feels like just that – but without the script’s potential coming to fruition.

Jamal Chong and Kate Gwynn take to some scenes better than others. Their intimacy is awkward in some scenes, but their flirtation and sense of play in others is sweetly genuine. The inconsistency is frustrating, as the potential for great performances is there. Chong is also the writer and director – the choice to wear this trio of hats is undoubtedly the root of the issues with this play and production.

The design is minimalistic and functional, with monochromatic chairs and a bench being arranged differently for each scene. Switching on clip-on coloured lights one by one as an introduction is a nice visual touch, but one that doesn’t link to the script in any discernible way.

Other than an interesting question posing as a concept, Possibilities falls short of taking a stance on the impact such a world would have on the individuals that it places under a microscope. The rejection of a narrative arc in favour of a collection of scenes only related through their characters actively prohibits development of this piece, and there is a pronounced absence of dramaturgy. With a bigger creative team and any sort of answer to the concept question, Possibilities would be become a more well-formed reality.

Possibilities runs through 26 October.

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