A Little Space is an artful collaboration between Gecko and Mind the Gap; exploring all the ways it means to be alone.  The show is fantastic physical theatre, in that it explores the complex emotional and institutional features of its main theme using a full range of theatrical tools.  The cast begin inside an apartment, where a group of people gather, speaking to each other through the rise and fall of their hands and shoulders, shifting weight, traveling through breath, and chattering casually with deft gestures.  From here we dive through the floorboards of the apartment, into memory, trauma, fear, and fantasy.  The boundary lines between each is successfully blurred.  But this abstraction doesn’t veer into the anti-emotional territories of other vignette fans: late modern (Cunningham) or early American post-modern dance (Yvonne Rainer).  Instead, A Little Space stays with feeling until the work begins to take on a haunting sense of associative logic.  This allows the show to attend to the aggregate sensations of joy, fear, hope, paranoia, and loneliness that accompany being alone, a complex physical state for many people currently, in a moment where large swathes of the world’s population are considering to self-isolation.

Never content to settle on one meaning of ‘alone’ the devising performers: Paul Bates, Lorraine Brown, Alison Colborne, JoAnne Haines, and Charlotte Jones move with precision as individuals and as a collective. And there are a number of images and scenes that arrive with such clarity—in conversation with the lighting design by Chris Swain, and sound design by Mark Melville—that they form the bedrock of A Little Space’s imaginative world.  A hospital bed with a figure curled up underneath white sheets, a gloaming tower block, the yellow-hum of a TV set, and a ‘trauma-rucksack’: a conglomerate of issues and found-objects shouldered by one of the dancers.  Each one of these vignettes presents a psychological challenge to be physically overcome.  A therapy RPG.  Each image takes us further away from the established reality of the opening scene until we are inside the Television set.  Where a break-up scene is repeated, spun through different paces first as it may have played out in real time, with the performers lip-synching to pre-recorded audio, then it is slowed down to reveal every excruciating detail, before being sped-up, distilled.

In these spaces of abstraction Gecko and Mind the Gap showed us how the gestures that we use to greet each other, to take care of each other, can be the very same which return as trauma.  A hand on a shoulder becomes a vice-like grip, arms raised to the sky in laughter return again as a howl of pain, caresses leave welts on the body.  Eventually we come back through the images, and as the rug is pulled out from our feet the sense of low inertia is both welcome and unsettling.  As we careen back from inside the TV, back into the Tower Block, back again past the hospital bed, the artists offer us a nuanced take on resolution.  While each situation is overcome in a meaningful way, nothing is neatly packed away or solved, we are not led to believe that these images won’t return but instead led to believe that by being together, with the audience as witness, the actors can create a little space to explore these situations night after night.

Marcus Bell

8th March 2020