The Body at The Pit at the BarbicanCultureTheatre
Having won the 2015 Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, The Body comes to The Pit for 10 days. Written by Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari, the play markets itself as multisensory. However, the experience is sensationalist and very far away from perceptive. Looking at the poster for this play, in all its kitsch macabre glory, is probably just as good as going to watch the performance, which sustained a surface superficiality throughout. For an immersive theatre experience about the body, it is unfortunately just skin.
The audience must journey down to the depths of the Barbican and then hand in their bags and coats. A helpful stewardess informs everyone that this is because there is very little space in The Pit and also that the play is “very immersive”. This is an apt description: it is too self-aware and displays immersive theatre in all its awkwardness – hats and all.
At points, The Body is genuinely humorous, the best part of the production involving a white morph suit. This scene is perfect in its brevity, but unfortunately that is the premise of the whole play. There is no story line or characterisation, only niftily controlled technology-heavy vignettes that feel physically intrusive. It is more like an examination of the body through an anthropomorphised laparoscopy than through a living, breathing human.
Nigel Barrett and Jess Latowicki perform expertly. They are, however, let down by a script that is too heavily focused on tropes and knee-jerk reactions. The myriads of dolls are redundant, despite seeming to be the focal point of the show. They more accurately represent the fact that Barrett and Mari have failed in their attempt to give life to this monster.
Photo: Richard Davenport
The Body is on at The Pit at the Barbican from 19th until 29th November 2015, for more information or to book visit here.