Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Longwave - Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Performed entirely without dialogue, this 75-minute performance piece is nothing if not testing. But since it is written by the always-interesting Chris Goode (The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley, GOD/HEAD and more) who comes with consistently good form, it would be churlish not to take a look.

Originally devised in 2006, Longwave has returned in 2014 with Tom Lyall and Jamie Wood as the two actors charged with portraying scientists stranded in a shed in a bleak, hostile, unwelcoming environment. They play games and make music to pass the time while trapped in the middle of nowhere. Their only source of comfort is an old wireless, which also provides their only occasional links to the world they once knew.

Tom and Jamie do an excellent job of portraying the repetitive routines of the two scientists who live together in their tiny shed. Through intricately choreographed routines the audience gets an intimate glimpse inside their minds – to see who it is they’ve left behind at home, their struggles with the isolation, and their joy when their research yields positive results.

To achieve all of this with no dialogue is quite some feat, and this is where the tool of the longwave radio really comes in. Although we do hear some scripted dialogue via the radio at times, the words chosen are selected with such care and thought as to only be crucially necessary to drive the narrative forwards and give the audience further insight into the characters.

While in a world dominated by communication, music, chatter and social media it is easy to be deafened by the constant barrage of sound being thrown at us, Longwave and its silence initially seems like a daunting prospect. But the reality is a simply beautiful piece of theatre that is a fascinating experiment into silence, and how to chose your words more carefully.

I saw Longwave on its last evening in Plymouth, however it is touring to London, Crew and Lincoln. Click here for more information. 

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