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And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
“Space,” wrote Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, “Is big.
Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
That problem of size may explain why theatre companies tend to avoid astrophysics as subject matter.
But with a CV which includes taking over an entire Oxford Street office block for a new version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and creating a Soviet era casino for a reworking of Chekhov’s The Seagull and Stephen Dietz’s Nina Variations, .dash is not your ordinary theatre company.
According to Jessica Jordan-Wrench, one of the five-strong team behind And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, the initial inspiration to create a piece of theatre based around the life cycle of a star came from meeting a friend of a friend – Boris the French astrophycist.
“We took him to the pub and asked him to talk to us about his research,” says Jordan-Wrench.
“Afterwards we discussed what gripped us and excited us. We have been meeting with him throughout, and he has been advising us to make sure we have all the concepts straight.”
She confesses if the company had gone into every concept Boris had discussed, they could have made a 12-hour opera. Instead, they decided to put the life cycle of a star alongside a tangible relationship that people could relate to – a love story.
“There are two performers who play the couple, and two comperes,” says Jordan- Wrench. “It’s about the concept of scale, it’s almost like a toy theatre – with the comperes putting on a show.”
One of the major themes is the ephemeral nature of life – even something as big as a star dies eventually.
“When something is ephemeral it needs to be savoured and celebrated,” says Jordan-Wrench. “I guess it’s totally overused and clichéd but it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
The production also includes live projections featuring video input from a toy train set travelling around the space, and music inspired by the work of PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth and Patti Smith.
“We are interested in creating an atmosphere,” says Jordan-Wrench. “It’s rumbles, distortion and live electric and bass guitars rather than acoustic music. We want the performance to be noisy visually and sonically – we want the audience’s insides to shake a little bit.
“We always aim for the experience to be immersive. Whether or not the audience is walking around the space or not, they should be engaging in the show. We don’t want them to be bored.”
Early performances were held as part of The Basement’s Scratch night in November, which have since been worked up for this Brighton Fringe premiere.
“I think Brighton audiences are interested in, and up for trying, new experiences,” says Jordan-Wrench, who grew up in the city herself.
“The music scene in Brighton is really strong, and we want to appeal not only to traditional theatregoers but also people who go out to a gig or live art show. The piece is quite genre-crossing.”
One of the ideas explored in the piece is the necessity of entropy – disasters and chaos – in modern life.
“We love mistakes and mini-disasters,” says Jordan-Wrench. “When the toy train is going around the line the cameras interact with the nine-volt battery powering the set. It creates some lovely video distortion, like when you get tracking on old videos.
“Some ten to 20% of static on television screens are remnants of The Big Bang – it’s really cool.”
The Warren, Wagner Hall, Russell Place, Brighton, Saturday, May 5, to Monday, May 7
Starts 4.30pm, tickets from £8.
Call 01273 917272.