3 Stars

★★★ A Puzzling High Tension Piece

Charlotte Pegram reviews Lands at Summerhall, Edinburgh

Lands is sparse, both in terms of language and set. Featuring only a trampoline and a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, it tackles issues of dependency and isolation in an absurdist form.

You have to get used to the sounds of springs crunching up and down fairly quickly as Sophie is bouncing for nigh on the entirety of the performance. Why? Well, she can’t get off, can she. And, Leah, she is absolutely fixated on completely her puzzle; observing with scientific accuracy the images pictured on each piece. There is some visual comedy in watching these two women absorbed in their very separate tasks on stage, but it quickly loses any sense of comedy and becomes quite serious, quite dark. Indeed, it’s impressive how much meaning can be woven into two such mundane activities.

It’s probable that each person watching the goings-on between Sophie and Leah will interpret something different. For me both women were trapped and isolated in their separate tasks, but whereas Leah was happily, selfishly absorbed in her puzzle, Sophie was addicted to hers and unable to stop. Leah focuses on her puzzle because she doesn’t care what anyone else does, Sophie would very much like to join Leah but can’t stop bouncing, even when she manages to stop briefly she is drawn back in.

At bang on 60 minutes it does seem to take a long time to make its point, though. Antler Theatre might argue that it’s important to feel some negative feelings – frustration and/or discomfort – in order to fully empathise with what the two characters are going through on stage; however, the second half of the performance could be tighter.

If you’re interested in seeing a modern-day Beckett play then this is right up your street. If you’re not into absurdist theatre then this probably won’t float your boat.

Lands runs at Summerhall, Edinburgh until August 20th.

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