Billy Smart’s Circus it isn’t, but smart Scarabeus’ Depths of My Mind is. It is part of Polka Theatre’s Brain Waves Festival at the Brit School, Croydon. It is the brain-child of Daniela Essart and Soren Neilson, inspired by the U-Change study from Cambridge University, with turbo-charged choreography by Lindsey Butcher and Mark Morreau’s techno-wizardry. It is moving, provocative and pushes the boundaries of theatrical experience in an immersive, thrilling, forty minute joy-ride.
The dramatic arc captures the teenage experience as transparent plexiglass cradles are hoisted, lowered and ‘flat-packed’ to change perspective. Literal platforms for shifting moods, introspective or explosive, the action is accompanied by an appropriate Spotify list, switching from legendary Bob Marley’s to Nirvanah’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’
Hormones rush, divert, delineating love, a break-up, antagonism, isolation and intimacy. At various times the audience are encouraged to lie beneath the suspended platforms in a novel form of promenade theatre, adding a rich subterranean layer.
The whole is the sum of its parts and there are many memorable moments: the performers as they let rip, fly, head-bang-body-bang to Nirvanah’s teenage anthem; beautiful coloured neuro-images project on to sleeping bodies or fill a wall as chemicals ‘dance.’ Yet perhaps the most striking is the feverish manipulation of a red-lit mangled sheet, suggesting menstruation, blood-letting and anger; the most delicate the gentle flutterings of orange origami flowers.
The four talented performers ooze vitality and strength; qualities which looked at from the other end of the age-spectrum are a source of envy, if not reverie, at youth’s invincibility. The dive-bombs on the Chinese Pole are nothing short of thrilling; while the mirroring and the simple placing of a foot or hand shows delicacy and contrast. ‘Art is not the end but the beginning’ boasts one sloganed-Tee Shirt; a mantra which defines Depths of My Mind as a whole.