Point of Echoes Review
Review by Adele Matterface
‘It’s pretty bloody obvious that you and I haven’t got anything in common. But one thing - one thing we do have in common is that we have to keep this light going. Morning, noon and night, we have to keep it going’
On the night of the winter solstice, the childlike Eric Norman Valentine (Thomas Heyes) arrives at the isolated Echo Point Lighthouse for the first day of his new job. Along with his luggage, he carries a letter from his mother beseeching his new co-workers to be patient with his ‘quirks and eccentricities’. He is greeted by Bernard Humphries (Dom Czapski), an experienced but troubled keeper whose usual companion has left without notice. As they commence their work, they develop a kind of working harmony. Then an unexpected mist engulfs them…
Commissioned by the Rural Touring Dance Initiative and choreographed by Ben Wright, Point of Echoes is an eerie yet beautiful show set on the English coast. There are strong themes of horror, love and loss throughout, a combination which attracted a full audience when it was performed in the Trowbridge Town Hall. The show was performed by a streamlined cast of three, and the chemistry and trust between them was striking. The show featured blended sections of dance, song and drama, all of which were kept in perfect balance and added to the intricacies of the plot rather than interrupting it. Without exception, the dances were beautifully choreographed pieces and incorporated a range of styles. The interactions between the cast ran from aggressive to tender but were all flawlessly executed and often acrobatic and impressive.
The set was designed by Will Holt, whose previous projects have usually been on sets for much larger venues. For Point of Echoes, he developed a ‘pop-up lighthouse’ which consisted of a circular wooden stage, with the audience sat around it in front of an ocean backdrop. The stage was littered with hidden doors from which the actors pulled out the props they used throughout their performance. Although an aesthetically simple design, Holts set is portable and practical, and it completely transformed the Clerk’s room of the Trowbridge Town Hall.
All three performers are extensively experienced. Dom Czapski has trained in both Paris and London, and currently co-curates London Topophobia, a performance event group. Thomas Heyes trained in Lancashire, where he received a first-class degree in Dance and Drama. He also works on his own performances with the Thomas Heyes Company. Marta Masiero is an Italian dancer who trained with the London Contemporary Dance School and apprenticed with the Scottish Dance Theatre. To describe the character she plays would spoil the plot, however, her role was arguably the most difficult to portray. Masiero delivered a mesmerising performance using dance to convey emotions ranging from overwhelming joy to profound agony.
Although a fun and sometimes eccentric tale, Point of Echoes incorporates complex issues like loneliness, loss and developmental disability. From Eric’s opening lines, his autism is made clear to modern-day audiences, however, the play is set in 1978 when issues such as this were commonly misunderstood. Although Eric’s dialogue is often used to comic effect, the issue is handled with sensitivity and a deep understanding of the condition. Eric’s autism endears him to the audience and lines such as ‘I’m keen to show I’m eager’ add comic relief to a brilliant but dark plot.
Point of Echoes will be touring all over the country until the end of March. If you would like more information about the show please visit chinaplatetheatre.com/point-echoes.
Review by Adele Matterface