Curtis' Brink wants to offer an insight into the lives of six people in
The drama began with a burst of choreographed dance (arranged, I think, by director and cast) performed to Sarah Spencer's mysterious, atonal electronic music (later just drums and bass, and then solo harp; ever perfectly tuned to mood and word). This dance was both sinewy and ethereal. It was immediately evident we were in skilled directorial hands.
The format of the material comprised monologues where each character more or less in turn told their story or expressed their desires or aired their fantasies, varied by dialogues with one or more other characters. These were often tricky to follow since they either meandered or took the form of two people apparently conversing, but communicating little. I was put in mind of the 'parallel play' phase in the development of toddlers. Yet I found almost all the spoken word not frustrating but intriguing. Then would come another interlude of music and dance routines. Maybe these served as a visual metaphor for the whirling pattern in modern life of relationships made, adjusted and broken, or maybe not, but no matter since the movement was a treat to behold: stimulating and relaxing both.
The poetic language was often a delight, and included the most evocative line I've heard all year: 'I shoot down the pavement and scoop the sky up in my arms'.
Of conventional narrative there was little, and we tended to move laterally rather than vertically. Since there was quite a deluge of fragmentary information, the details of who, what and where were to me sometimes obscure. But the sheer quality of the production kept me consistently engaged, even if 10 minutes could have been lopped off the running time without great loss.
We moved between a woman (Emma Howlett, intensely expressing her angst) seen fearful in a plane, then expressing her loneliness as she suspects her husband of dodgy texting: 'He's having an affair. Thank fuck for that!' and then Felix (a very good Stas Butler), sturdy but with a liquid heart within, standing on a tube platform, fantasizing on rails being a river. Another woman (Julia Pilkington, all strangulated voice and mincing movements) was stuck in a high-rise council flat, soliloquizing about urban foxes and the poetic possibilities in city detritus.
Of the six first-class actors, I might just single out Lee Simmonds' salesman. Here he quietly but passionately conveyed his desperation to break out from his banal life while there was still time. There was comedy and anger there. Lee has been consistently one of the three or four best student actors I've seen in the last 10 years.
The direction by Luke Wintour was a constant delight. The script bore no stage directions to guide him, but he had the knack of always placing his characters in the right place in this small playing space, so the sense of isolation that came at us never felt compromised. He made inventive use of paper and a framing box, had just the right balance between stasis and movement, and, with lighting designer Shivaike Shah, lit the scene carefully - he injected energy everywhere.
Brink requires concentration, since the narrative is elliptical and the characters elusive, but I found it a constant delight. The 'Sold Out' notices are up, and very deservedly so.