Don’t Leave Me This Way at the Cockpit Theatre Online
Don’t Leave Me This Way is a multi-sensory experience that utilises various mediums in order to effectively engulf the audience into the characters’ personal stories. Delivering the organised chaos that’s to be expected in any Kneehigh production, the cast break the fourth wall and interact with different props. The Zoo Indigo duo work with projection mapping across the cyclorama and piles of stacked suitcases depict graphics of dialogue and old footage. Catwalks of culture run downstage towards the virtual stalls, where the majority of the action takes place.
The Nottingham-based Anglo-German duo Rosie and Ildiko audition for their motherland, proving their heritage through a series of walkway shows. Created in the shadows of Brexit and taking on a Eurovision Song Contest style, the play sees the pair search for their Irish, German, Hungarian and Czechoslovakian origins. In an intimate storytelling style, Zoo Indigo tell the tale of four individuals attempting to reclaim their lost roots, proving that they are worthy of where they came from. In a pre-production discussion, the cast members ask the viewers “where are you from and where do you want to be?”, the answers to which they type into the chat section of Zoom.
The latter question being at the core of the work, Zoo Indigo bring us a pre-recorded performance of storytelling. A real highlight of the piece is the astute musicality provided by Rob Rosa. He accompanies the lead actors with beautiful melodies on the violin and keyboard. This lifts the actors’ performances whilst creating a subtle dynamic and adding some depth when needed. Rosa takes to the catwalk to speak of his native homeland, but communicates through his instrument, with subtitled dialogue projected onto the suitcase – a further reminder of the theme of migration. The use of captions is effective and interactive, yet at times slow. The actors and their accompanying projections are not always in sync, meaning some of the sharp wit lacks the necessary execution.
Despite that, the play fits in nicely with the turbulent year of 2020. Not only does the production challenge culture and prejudice, but it also touches on gender and a deep sense of what it means to belong, which of course directs the spectator’s thoughts to a Brexit Britain. Don’t Leave Me This Way is indeed a fun watch party, but encourages us to confront a big quandary of our own: is home actually where the heart is?
Zoo Indigo will be back during May 2021, when hopefully, one might actually be a live participant in this energetic show.
Don’t Leave Me This Way was originally scheduled to be live at The Cockpit theatre but has been adapted to an online format. The watch party performance is available until Saturday 21st November. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.