We enter a barely lit room to the sounds of a soft gypsy lament, played out on accordion by a woman standing in the corner. Later, with a hum, a wail, or a tap of her surprisingly versatile instrument, she conjures a train, a clock, a hospital, even a battlefield. A man, obscured behind a mask resembling the careworn face of an elderly male sits forlornly at a table. Next to him, a younger woman stands rigid and expressionless like a life-size marionette.
What then unfolds in this wordless, exquisitely orchestrated, physical exploration of loss and companionship is one of the most affecting love stories seen at the Fringe – this year, or any other.
The younger woman dons a similar mask and plays out a series of vignettes—all in precisely choreographed, Lecoq-style mime—with her husband, the Old Man. They do a crossword, go for a walk, share a cup of tea – the trivial comforts and minutiae of a long life shared.
Then the masks fall and we see their young courtship flourish; he goes to war, she gets pregnant; they dance, fall in love, argue, comfort and eventually, terribly, they grieve. It’s simultaneously theatre from nothing, and from everything; the rituals and rites of life in close-up, and a love that stretches out across it all and beyond.
To say much more would dull the impact of this extraordinary piece. But when at last, somehow, the pair manages to let go, we, the audience—cheeks glistening, mouths agog—are released too. Incredibly, an hour has passed.
A standing ovation is the inevitable conclusion.