Mile End tells the story, through words and sounds and images, of Michael, a man losing control of his mind and the devastating effect this has on an innocent bystander. Sinister shadows follow Michael and compound his sense of disorientation. The bystander, Alex, is himself struggling with reality and has dreams that have a habit of coming true. His wife, Kate, is the one who seems most sane and grounded and yet she is the one, in the end, who is set adrift by the loss of her husband. Kate starts and ends the spoken part of the play – it is not clear at the beginning what she means, but at the end you realise that she is talking about the beginning of the end of her world. The acting was flawless and utterly believable, the Alex/Kate relationship, the disintegrating loner Michael.
The play is made up of a series of short scenes that tumble one after the other in swift succession: walls move forwards and sideways as people walk, simple furniture appears, is moved, disappears. Windows open in walls. At first it seems too much but soon the restless stage starts to give you a sense of urgency. Nothing stays still: things are moving towards their inevitable conclusion. The stage effects and this movement are in fact very cleverly choreographed. It is urgent, it is fast, but always looks purposeful. Add to this the music, the lighting and the ghostly figures manipulating the objects and people and you have a very polished and very moving performance. Our audience was largely made up of rather noisy teenagers but the play managed to keep them spellbound for an hour. Some feat.
Remember the name Analogue: if you can’t get to see Mile End, look out for them next time they come to Oxford.