Review: Beachy Head (National Tour)

Beachy HeadIn death are we someone’s brother/sister/lover or just a body? What happens in the moment from jumping to the fatal landing when you step over the edge? These are the questions that swirl around Analogue’s sophisticated yet makeshift Beachy Head, a theatrical autopsy on suicide.

We watch as two documentary film makers battle with questions of responsibility in the face of a Machiavellian artistic opportunity; a wife grieves for her husband, who in death has become a stranger; a doctor clinically explains the practicalities of finding out why an organism ‘shuts down’.

Analogue have created fragmentary moments of beauty in the midst of this somewhat ragged exploration. A phone conversation with the Samaritans is powerful in its simplicity. The acknowledgment of an artists’ culpability within the representation of such raw subject matter is communicated poignantly through the brash documentary film makers. Sarah Belcher turns in an intelligent performance as the doctor whose statistics on death deliver a strong emotional punch and Katie Lightfoot is thick with emotion as the widow tripping between coping and a pain so piercing it threatens to derail her.

A wealth of technical and theatrical trickery (projections, live video streaming, tightly choreographed scene changes) is at play here giving Beachy Head an intriguingly textured feel. In the middle of this patchwork a story is sewn loosely together, but the space between each seam is too clear. We are unsure if it is the brain or the mind we are supposed to be examining; unsure as to whether we are being shown a ‘play’ or an abstract expression of loss. As such the mines of potential underpinning this work never quite explode as one hopes they will.

Written for http://www.whatsonstage.com

Tour dates here

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