Photo: Frank Bassleer

Another One

Reviewer's Rating

Summerhall’s Big in Belgium season has become a bit of a fringe staple – and can be relied upon to produce some unexpected gems. In the past it’s brought us formally innovative work from Ontroerend Goed, and the brilliant Us/Them by Bronks. Another One is another show to add to the list – and it’s just won the Total Theatre Award for Physical / Visual Theatre to prove it.

It’s primarily a movement piece (though there are passages of obtuse dialogue) devised and performed by Lobke Leirens and Maxim Storms – graduates of the KASK School of Arts in Belgium. Set in a timeless, mythical, Siberian-feeling landscape – Another One follows two characters (a man and a woman – presumably husband and wife, though nothing is specified) and their various attempts to provide company for one another. They play cards. They violently beat one another up. They devour rodents.

It’s a portrait of our need for distractions – games, or equivalent activities, played over and over again (hence the show’s title) – and how these can be both a source of both joy and pain. It’s also a show about how that dichotomy is mirrored in our relationships with one another – and the constant shifting between attraction and repulsion that characterises most close companionships.

If there’s an event in the course of this scenario, it’s one of continual return. A bit like Didi and Gogo, these two characters are inseparable, just as their game playing won’t end until they do. But there’s also a tenderness tying them to one another – which saves this from being a bleak Sisyphean fable, and transforms it into a more nuanced, ambivalent picture of human relationships.

It’s an oddly moving depiction of companionship, at the same time funny and visually arresting.