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Backward Glance

Exceptionally Strong Performances

How many stories can be told in a lifetime? How many stories can be told of a life? And how many stories can be told timelessly?

A woman has died. She was a writer, a poet, a mother, a daughter, a celebrity... But in death, she becomes a construct; a story that changes depending on who’s telling it. In this spectacular production Multi Story Theatre Company live up to their name, building for us, out of a small claustrophobic front room, a skyscraper of competing narratives from which to view the world and its equivalent layers of indeterminate truths. With exceptionally strong performances from Gill Nathanson and Bill Buffery, the actors moved through conversations and interactions between a husband and his shape-shifting female counterpart. The woman visually mirrored the photographs of his dead wife but physically adopted roles from the many aspects of her life, embodying a mother, a journalist, an investigator, and the ghost of the wife herself. Meanwhile her husband, in struggling to explain the uncertain circumstances surrounding her death, and in an effort to bring some cohesion to these shifting perspectives, idealises their personal story using grand and epic narratives borrowed from ancient Greek mythology. The transmutability of the woman through this telling and re-telling of her story, and the many stories she as a writer, told in life, causes her to be described as a past, present and future portal through which all of human life and experience can perhaps be glimpsed. The convergence of these layers in this woman as a vessel, hinting towards the notion of paralleled and simultaneous existence.

The performances were exceptional, often creating an intensely claustrophobic feel and sending many a shiver going down the spine. The only criticism I have of the play was its ending which was rather confusing, though I imagine its ambiguity may have been intentional as this was a play which unfurled questions for its audience, leaving plenty to ponder in its wake. The climax of the piece seemed to see myth and reality combine in the figure of the husband who becomes accountable for upholding some basic sense of morality. The media functioning as a modern-day mythology, of needing someone to worship and someone to blame – just as these roles have been lived out over and over again in different versions throughout human history - from the early morality plays to the magazine scandals of today.

Alice Trueman - BroadwayBaby.com
Brighton Festival Fringe May 08

 

Backward Glance is a powerful examination of how and why men and women come to such different explanations for the loss of love and even of death from love. There are only two actors but they create an epic of ancient and modern storytelling.

A writer comes in for interrogation after his celebrity wife dies in strange circumstances. He ( Bill Buffery ) faces fierce questioning from a journalist  but also from the dead woman’s mother and from a sinister female figure hellbent on punishing him to encourage better male behaviour(all played by Gill Nathanson ). But he’s trying to bring his beloved back from the dead, as Orpheus did in his mythological journey to find his wife in the Underworld.

It’s a complex and absorbing show, moving swiftly between settings and characters, and using computer projection behind veils to create the tenderness once shared by the couple. There are shocking moments, brilliant lines and wonderful acting in a play that glues you to your seat. Almost too much to take in at one sitting, so it’s a good job it’s on again on Saturday (2.45) and Sunday (6.45).

Richard Howe (official Fringe reviewer)

 

First of all I should say that, I have seen Multistory before and kind of know the performers involved.

Multistory (Bill and Gill) are responsible for the best children's theatre I have ever seen and I'm probably the kind of audience member they hate because all I ever want them to do is "The Firebird" again.... and again.

"Backward Glance" is not for children, it is an emotional, almost lyrical examination of the myth and fantasy we create to cope with loss and grief. Although sometimes uncomfortable, the performances (sometimes almost dance-like) are genuinely gripping and moving. Weaving into a very modern tale the journey of Orpheus and his journey to hell and back could not have been easy, but once again Multistory have more than enough talent and skill not just to show that they understand it, but to make you understand it also.

Fantastic well done!

Mark Ashmore

 

Fri 27.6.08

Inn on the Square

Emotional, powerful, thought-provoking.  Make sure you see this!

Ellie

 

Fri 27.6.08

Inn on the Square

The best I’ve seen you do.  Powerful, loving, hateful, angry – great!

Pete

 

Absolutely brilliant writing & acting.  Don’t miss this.

 

Sun 29.6.08

Inn on the Square

Powerful, absorbing, moving, emotional, fantastic – whew!

Julie W

 

 

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