Lots and Not Lots review – explorers of the intimate unknown

The most striking visual image in this show is created by small torches, their beams edging through darkness. Four young performers turn the torches on themselves, running subdued rays along their limbs and over their feet, as if investigating a territory disarmingly close at hand. They are explorers of the intimate unknown in bright patterned shirts.

Lots and Not Lots, a piece of physical music theatre by composer Greg Sinclair, was first produced in 2018 for National Theatre of Scotland’s Futureproof festival. Solemn and quizzical, it lets young people delve into the world around them.

Sinclair’s ingenious musical palette includes ping pong balls that bounce desultorily over the floor or ding across metal chimes, and bendy plastic tubes in primary school colours whirring through the air. There’s a five-piece recorder band, players arranged in height order, and performers repeat vocal lines at distorted speed, or create a blurry wall of noise by passing microphones over their mouths, notes coming in and out of focus.

Footage from 2018 suggests that the show has been scaled back. The original appears more elaborate – more performers, more welly in the design, mics dangling from the ceiling. Monochrome costumes have given way to rather luscious prints (design by Karen Tennent): one performer is in violet and bilberry, the smallest scampers in jaguar yellow and black.

Crucially, these performers (most from Edinburgh’s Lyra Young Artists programme) look significantly younger, and the show’s concerns may land differently. The opening’s sublunar strangeness gives way to a gentle playground vibe. There’s just a brief moment of romping wildness when everyone breaks out the snarls and air guitar.

Where fringe regulars such as Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed have used young casts to deliver social critique and gusts of chaos, here the sense that youngsters are testing their universe only fully emerges in a late sequence, where Carrie Smith delivers a questioning monologue (“Life – is there a point?”) while everyone else does a groovy little line dance.

At its preview performance things felt a little tentative and laborious. There’s not lots of revelation here – but lots of play, lots of charm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button