crisp manners and complex protocol of a Chinese court may hold dramatic
potential but the inside of a sealed tomb has less obvious potential.
But a combination of the two is a recipe for a tense, simmering,
and sometimes terrifying play.
Birmingham School of Speech and Dramas production of More
Light begins as a dying emperor creates an image of the world, his
world, for his tomb.
the concubines march into the tomb, sealed forever with their master.
isolated from outside controls, however, the womens manicured
court manners begins to splinter and crack as quickly as the paint
on their faces.
the bleached white of their robes, faces and demeanour, the women
plunge into a new reality of fear, cannibalism and madness.
tight, close, dark interior of the theatre lends the perfect atmosphere
of claustrophobia. While always formal and almost poetic the dialogue
goes from stiff and formal to increasingly wild and driven.
of the play rests on Imogen Harris in the title role and she succeeds
in dominating, without losing a sense of vulnerability, of barely
restrained panic. Among the horror of confinement, there is time
for hope, for sensuality, for freedom.
each of the concubines, Scent of Ginger, Pure Joy, Love mouth, Playful
Kitten, Young Friend and Many Treasures, lends their own personality
to the increasingly complex universe inside the tomb.
without being obscure, More Light is a rich and involving production,
directed with confidence and performed with capability and style.