All sound and fury and no story…

It is currently en vogue to be a ‘physical theatre’ company.  With the work of Kneehigh, Complicite, DV8 and Frantic Assembly (to name but a few) dazzling audiences across Britain, Jean-Louis Barrault’s idea of ‘Total Theatre’ is being actualised in the most dynamic forms possible.  Movement, music, visual image and text are each being fully explored for all their possibilities, with no stone left unturned in the search of a fully holistic way of theatre.  Naturalism has been pushed to its limits, dissolved and reformed in works which sometimes use a script and sometimes a text as a jumping off point, and sometimes no text at all, in a devised process of company work. This form of theatre coined in some areas as ‘physical’ has been used to delight and astound audiences, and has brought a distinctively European feel to the strongly textual British Theatre. Interestingly companies such as this, who could so easily take their inspiration from anywhere, do end up using a textual basis, and often this form is used to incredibly powerful effect to illuminate stories in ways which would otherwise never have been possible. But recently it seems that Barrault’s original idea been pushed so far visually that it has resulted in a shift away from narrative communication to the point where what had been used to reveal, now seems to confuse and befuddle.  


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