Review from Stage Whispers
Not In A Million Years
10 years in a coma, trapped in a mine for two weeks, propelled to the edge of the stratosphere, falling 33,000 feet from an aircraft, beating a world record by 50 times over, winning $70 million or walking on a wire cable across to the North Tower of the World Trade Centre – Not In A Million Years showcases seven phenomenal true stories, some of which audiences will be familiar with and others they will learn of through this performance.
Force Majeure is a company of four performers Vincent Crowley, Sarah Jayne Howard, Elizabeth Ryan and Joshua Tyler headed up by award winning Artistic Director Kate Champion. Champion has created such an original work with this production, the way the stories weave from one to the other and then also weave back, so we learn more and yet don’t feel dislocated is very clever.
Thousands of ‘snow-like’ polystyrene pieces in the space are used to change the shape of the landscape depending on which story is the focus. Two transparent screens create the sides and throughout the performance, text is displayed on these screens to guide us. Dance, dialogue and group work are integrated to give shape to these stories. The performers change the landscape of the ‘snow’ using boards, large fans and choreography that gouges out and moves the ‘snow.’
I thought the company could have explored the story of Philippe Petit further and created something visually more dramatic around the high wire walk with the use of aerial dance or something that would have elevated our feeling of risk and generated an element of the anxiety that the onlookers would have felt.
One particular moment in the piece which visually stood out to me, was the story of Angela who goes from royal mail worker to multi-millionaire, literally over night. In this piece, Angela is played by a male and is boxed in and moved around through the polystyrene in doors that have a venetian-blind effect allowing the light to stream in – like a sort of phone box, symbolic of Angela feeling trapped inside and looking out.
I think the concept of creating a work that captures some of the most truly phenomenal stories allows us to also realise a lot of things come down to chance. Apart from the high-wire walker and the Olympic athlete, the other stories just happened because of luck, circumstance, physics and weather. It allows us to reflect on the fact that a lot of life is stranger than fiction and that we really live day to day in the lap of the gods.
Images by Lisa Tomasetti.