Borges and I Review

Rating (out of 5)
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Paul Slater (artistic director), Julian Spooner (co-deviser), Greg Cebula (lighting designer), Lotte Wakeman (dramaturg), Grace Chapman, Sohie Cullen,
Paul Slater (artistic director), Julian Spooner (co-deviser), Greg Cebula (lighting designer), Lotte Wakeman (dramaturg), Grace Chapman, Sohie Cullen, Ellie Simpson, Kate Stanley (producers).
Kate Stanley (Alice), Sophie Cullen (Sophie), Joel Gatehouse (Nick), Grace Chapman (Hilary), Nicholas Pitt (Jim), Ellie Simpson (Gabby).
Running time

This is a story, told through books. How we read and experience books, how they shape the chapters of our lives and how those collected words and letters are at once public and personal.

It starts with a library presentation on Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine writer and a towering figure in Spanish-language literature, perhaps even the most important since Cervantes. His work deals with libraries, fictional writers, labyrinths, mirrors, animals, time, eternity, infinity and dreams. Perfect material for book groups, and when the biographical lecture hits (intentional) technical problems it’s in one such group that his life becomes mirrored and unwound.

The book group is hosted by queen-bee Hilary, author of “The pack”, her own rules and reading lists, which doesn’t prevent new member (“fresh-meat”), Nick falling for fellow bibliophile Sophie. A cautious and gentle romance takes place over the comparative merits of book indexing systems. But when Sophie’s eyesight starts to deteriorate she feels lost in a world of letterless books and luminous mists that only Nick can guide her through.

Throughout, Borges will appear; sometimes in person, or as voiceover or simply in the words of his own books. We learn of his works, his life and the cruel twist that was to elevate him to Director of the National Library but blind. The splendid irony of granting him 800,000 books and darkness at one touch.

Told in their own physical style it's a choreography of books, from a tango where they are simultaneously dropped, replacing the clacking of heels, to shifting landscapes, backdrops, a rain of folios, a flight of birds, every literary symbol imagined by Borges with unlimited power raised from the page. Its not only visually attractive but affecting too in its poignant telling of the reflecting tales.

If the company’s other show this year, “That is all you Need to Know”, shows a more mature side, this sparkles with youthful inventiveness; perhaps not surprisingly, as it’s a re-working of its second (2009) production.

This is Idle Motion at its best; eloquent beyond words.

Show times: 19 -25 August 2013, 1.20pm.

Ticket prices: £8 (£7) to £10.50 (£9.50).