Photo credits, Matthew Andrews
Language is the common denominator of all cultures. It’s how we communicate. How we progress. It’s a vital part of being safe and how we control our lives.
Can I Start Again Please ? Is a beautiful and simple piece of theatre with an abundance of subtext. It looks at language and how it is used and it’s restrictions. It also looks at elements of childhood trauma and abuse and how language is stunted by these events.
Two performers sat in huge dresses (Sue MacLaine and Nadia Nadarajah) our focus only on their face and their hands with a simple set of a few books by each of them, 3 bells and a large never ending sheet of paper across their laps.
At times the minimalism of such a small set and performance in such a large area creates a lack of intimacy. We are at times meant to feel as if we are being addressed but in a large area, it gives confusion as to whether we really are or whether this is directed to the other performer. Or was this the intention?
The performers show only two of the many ways we communicate – British Sign Language and vocally. The beauty of sign language is something I’ve never before taken the time to appreciate – the fluidity of the movement and the nature of gestures reminded me of a dance – a movement of language. If taken into a different context, there are many similarities in this language to what is achieved by physical theatre. The story or the expression is given through movement and at time abstract gestures rather than a simplistic mime; conveying emotion and meaning to anyone and everyone.
Touching upon childhood trauma – the combination of both these ideas into one production is very clever. The performers have taken from personal history which gives a personable and relatable performance. How we are given freedom of speech yet we can be threatened not to speak, be scared to or even lose the ability to through traumatic events, showing the growing limitations language has culturally.
Video credits, Zoe Manders
This minimalistic but contextually full performance is 60 minutes of intensity; highlighting the pain and structure of language especially in difficult situations as well as how culturally it has changed.
I left with much food for thought and a new appreciation of language.