The Crossing Place – Romantika

Broadway Baby / Sam Fulton

The Crossing Place – Romantika has an absurdly joyous opening, which is unexpected considering that the show is marketed as a study of loneliness, anxiety and desire. But the course of the performance proves this to be the perfect tone-setter; dark and vicious yet fun and playful, The Crossing Place is just that – absurd.A series of dramatic readings punctuates abstract physical theatre meditating on the themes of the chosen poems, all by Swedish Nobel prize winner Tomas Tranströmer, with the music of Franz Schubert providing a powerfully atmospheric backdrop. A potent combination of rich mediums, this production could easily get the balance wrong and overload the senses but, for the most part, it succeeds in grappling with its content and develops the relationship of the three protagonists effectively.

This is a strange and moving piece of physical theatre, high-octane and cerebral.

Inventiveness, particularly in the use of space and set, is the project’s strongest suit. Summerhall’s Upper Church is an ideal venue; a very large stage provides the actors with the space they need to carry out their energetic routines and gives an enormous structure made of bin bags the room it requires to breathe (incidentally, this sculptured set is beautifully put together and would not feel out of place in an art gallery).

Romantika, the company behind The Crossing Place, describe their work as being, in part, visual art and this is an accurate statement. The three movers – Chris Mawson, Michael Blundell-Lithco and Ciaran John, under the direction of Johan Bark – are always alert to the shapes and forms their bodies create, individually and as a group. An especially engaging routine involving a bag of white powder is one of the show’s highlights, and manages to tread the fine line between pure aesthetics and performative relevance. This quality is present for much of the show; the piece rarely strays so far into the abstract that relevance feels lacking. However, it does have a tendency, particularly in the middle section, to slow down. It is not in pace or energy that the performance slows – indeed, the opposite is true – but in creativity. Several of the central passages misjudge the weighting of the considered versus the frantic, and sometimes the movement oversteps the boundary between interestingly violent energy and an excessively macho power-play.

Yet in spite of these occasional faults, The Crossing Place is accomplished. This is a strange and moving piece of physical theatre, high-octane and cerebral.