Near Gone, The Old Market, Upper Market Street, Hove, March 29 to 31

The Two Destination Language performance company has set itself an unenviable task – to “put into words the utterly unspeakable”. EDWIN GILSON spoke to Katherina Radeva, half of the two-person show, to find out just how they do it.

How did you begin to present the unspeakable through performance?

First of all, Near Gone tells a story of a near death experience of my sister. I speak entirely in Bulgarian and Allistair translates it into English. We’re very interested in translation as a communication method and what gets lost in translation. What the words mean and how much you get out of me even though I’m speaking another language. I am very expressive on stage and that’s partly because I’m saying something quite tough.

What is the effect of using translation to demonstrate emotion?

Why the piece is so special is because we’re stripping everything back to the bare bones and saying this is how beautiful language can be – we don’t need to actually speak it to understand the emotion of that person. Half the show is basically me dancing to music – that’s after I can’t talk any more.

Is there something about trauma which means you can’t display it in a conventional way?

I’m not sure, but I think it means you have to think of more interesting ways. The story is one thing but the method of the show is what it’s all about. It’s not straight-forward theatre – it’s quite a special piece.

What was your motivation for telling this story in the first place?

I was very interested in the unknown. What happens when you don’t know? Like if a family member is unwell and in a hospital. Will they see through an operation or will it be fatal? We wanted to explore what happens in our psyche in that period of limbo. We take the audience with us right to the edge. When we’ve toured the piece, they translate it as “to the edge”. Or, Near Gone. At some point the audiences realise something isn’t quite right, and it goes from there.

Did you have any reservations about making the story public?

Not really. The very fact it has touched the hearts of many is a good reason to have done it. It’s an event that I’ve been part of but that doesn’t make it something sacrificial that shouldn’t be told. The things we know best we can communicate best.

What is the origin of Two Destination Language?

We founded it three years ago. All of our work centres on communities and culture – how they interact or sometimes don’t. We have a very international outlook. We explore and celebrate differences. In Near Gone, the biggest difference is in the relationship between the male and the female. If you come to see the show you’ll see it’s not just about gender – it’s about how it’s being expressed.