Boxless Physical Theatre’s Loop is a wonderful concept so beautifully presented and made such an impression on me at TheatreN16 last year, that its return to London at Gerry’s Studio, before a Manchester run, was an opportunity I knew I couldn’t afford to miss.
Loop takes us on an engrossing journey across five decades and three generations; It begins in 1965 and a young woman is leaving everything she knows behind to start a new and exciting life. This portion of the story is told in an intense and frenetic monologue complimented by wonderful physical ingenuity, it’s fantastically descriptive and immediately transports us to the era. Lucy Annable, who joins the cast for this run, delivers the story so flawlessly you almost forget she is the only person speaking.
Jump forward twenty years and Loop subtly moves from monologue to drama, as her daughter meets the boy she’ll spend the rest of her life with, all set to a back drop of Duran Duran and David Bowie. Leap again to present day, and now it’s the turn of ‘The Young Man’ who, like his grandmother, yearns to start a new life, and just like Lucy Annable, James Demaine delivers another powerful monologue, which captivates the audience as much as the first.
Emily Costello also joins the cast anew, and wonderfully encapsulates the teenage rebellion of ‘The Girl’, not only does she make her character wholly believable, but her burgeoning relationship with ‘The Boy’ feels realistic and comically sweet. ‘The Boy’ is Aaron Price, giving a superb performance as the teenage Star Trek fan, who will one day be pitied by his own son for devoting his life to ‘boring’ music.
The music is an important theme throughout, and we know it from the very outset, thanks to a cleverly curated mash-up, combining everything from Bill Haley and His Comets to The Verve. Changing tastes are used very effectively to highlight the generation gap and the soundtrack to several lifetimes is seamlessly integrated to the production. With more attention paid to sound design this time round, you really feel the music bringing everything to life, to the point where I had goose-bumps. If music is the heart of this production, then it certainly beats with tremendous vigour.
The writing from Alex Knott is powerful and expertly crafted, there’s never a dip or dull moment and the story easily holds the audience’s attention. Movement by Zöe Grain is exquisite and executed by the cast with complete precision. The combination of writing and movement makes this a physical piece of theatre which flows with a fascinating urgency.
With history repeating itself, the poignant final scene reminds us that we are all young once, and while tastes and fashions may change, everyone still has ambition and will grasp any opportunity they can to fulfil it. Loop is a superb example of impeccable movement and strong writing combining to make a truly exciting piece of physical theatre.