Dark Matter, Greenside, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Vertebra Theatre Company
Mayra Stergiou (director), Mayra Stergiou and Eirini Dermitzaki (writers)
Gregory Emfietzis (music), Kelly Frost (puppet maker)
Sofia Calmicova, Aurora Adams (back and right-hand puppeteer),
Jennie Rawling (feet puppeteer), Douglas Rutter (head - left-hand puppeteer)
Running time

The dark matter of dementia is tackled with great sensitivity and imagination by the young London based Vertebra Theatre Company.

Using superbly skilled 3- person puppetry, Aurora Adams and Jennie Rawling bring life to the beautifully made puppet that is Alfredo, with Douglas Rutter giving voice to Kelly Frost’s fine melancholy creation.

Alfredo is a widower and retired astrophysicist who lives in a care home where he is being treated for dementia. In his working life, he undertook a study to examine study of dark matter in relation to structure of brain and it is these themes that the company highlights through visuals, physical theatre and puppetry.

Some of the visuals are a bit shaky but the opening image of a small wooden figure, like the ones on art shop windows, floating like a puppet in the womb is an affecting one. We are asked ‘If people have a birth plan why not a death plan?’ This big question, and others like ‘Where do stars go when they die?’ inform this multi- disciplinary piece where the excellent and hard- working Sofia Calmicova acts as props for a train journey and an apple tree that Alfredo is made to convincingly climb.

His memories of childhood and courtship, times of loving and being loved, are acted out through a gauze of time to a soundtrack of songs of Piaf such as l’Hymne d’Amour and Padam Padam.

The venue’s appallingly bad sightlines mean that much of Alfredo’s movements are lost and darkness hasn’t been created deeply enough for the hand- held constellations to impact have full impact so this touching show feels slightly raw and like a work in progress. That said, these things are fixable so this show is definitely worth a chance.

22-26 August at 18.40 age recommend 12+