Platform 4, Shiver / Foursight Theatre and The Bone Ensemble, Again...

Review in Issue 18-3 | Autumn 2006

The grief felt by the characters of Platform 4’s Shiver seems unspeakable, but in their despair they offer us images of that grief that are of exceptional beauty. The young wife of Matthew, who died in a diving accident, repeats the motions of their diving trips in the bath tub, numbing herself to the pain of knowing that he is gone by physically reliving their moments together. Unable to comfort either his wife or himself, Matthew’s father joins the young widow to act out scenarios which a bereavement counsellor would call ‘rescue fantasies’, in one scene grabbing his son’s teddy bear as he protects him from a falling mast. Beautifully lit, and intensified by the inventive sound design, the actors’ movements express the immensity of bereavement in these scenes. The spoken text in Shiver, however, neither communicates the same sense of loss nor lives up to the intensity of the physical expression. Although this failure in communication may be regarded as a valid insight into the nature of grief, it means that the audience has to sit through fairly long sections waiting for the theatrical gems. It could also be argued that the slow passing of time is part of the experience of grief, yet one wonders if it would have been possible to make this point without making demands on the spectators’ patience.

How can an asteroid with a 50% probability of hitting the earth in the next 857 years, and the remains of a female body preserved in ice, be combined into a theatrical poem? The Bone Ensemble has taken up this challenge in Again…, adding a range of ingredients including a honky-Tonk piano, a woman who suffers from existential fear, a mysterious message attached to a brick falling onto the stage, and a fridge where these bricks are stored. Most of these elements are presented in the first fifteen minutes of the performance and I found myself intrigued, wondering how they might be linked. Not being able to find any associative connections (with the exception of a vague sense of desperation and death), my curiosity remained unsatisfied. The different stage personae, clearly delineated by Jil Dowse’s body language and expression, are fascinating as an example of superb acting skills, but failed to engage me on any other level. I left the performance still wondering about the connection between the asteroid and the frozen body – but at least one could argue that Again… provoked a reflection about questions I had never contemplated before.

Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-3
p. 29