Delicate (Theatre Royal Plymouth) Review
Co-produced by Figueteatret I Nordland (Nordland Visual Theatre) and Theatre Royal Plymouth, and presented by Extraordinary Bodies, ‘Delicate’ explores the idea that sometimes in order to find your place in the world, things need to go wrong and fall apart.
What exactly does the word ‘Delicate’ mean? The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as ‘needing careful treatment, especially because easily damaged’, but how does that apply to someone’s life. In this production, we are introduced to four characters who have each faced challenges in their lives that they have to overcome, be that being considered as delicate by others when you consider yourself strong or once being strong and now being delicate.
A former ballerina having to come to terms with aging and loss (played by Pat Garrett), a ex scaffolder with a life changing injury (played by Edward Muir), a young female wheelchair user who wants to be independent (played by Laura Dajao) and a young man who has never felt like he had a place in the world (played by Jordan Morton-Trowers) are brought together by circumstance and forced to re-evaluate their lives in a show that combines spoken word, dance and circus skills. A fifth character is a British sign language interpreter in a recording, and whilst this increases the inclusivity of the show, I couldn’t help but notice that the captioning on the recording was at times, either slightly ahead or slightly behind the dialogue, but this could simply have been a technical hitch.
This is a very physical piece of theatre exploring each character’s life through movement, such as seeing Morton Trower’s young man flitting in and out of other scenes as if touching it but not quite fitting in, or Muir’s ex scaffolder scaling up the climbing frame – esque set with ease to describe his characters love for the freedom of working up high structures. In places, it is very much an actions speaks louder than words situation.
Whilst the characters are having to come to terms with the physical and/or emotional scars that have been inflicted upon them, a small screen above the stage depicted the scars that the human race have inflicted upon the earth, showcasing just how delicate the world has become and how the current and future generations are trying to make it stronger again.
Due to the physical nature of the show, a lot is left up to the imagination of the audience, meaning that at times, the narrative does feel a little bit under explained and there are often slight gaps in the character’s stories. Whilst the circus skills and dance are thoroughly impressive throughout, I feel that these were given more attention than the plot at points, leaving me with quite a few questions in relation to the stories. Are these four characters living in the same block of flats, or in the same house, helping each other to face their problems? DO they overcome the problems or simply learn to live with them? And so on.
Overall, ‘Delicate’ is an interesting exploration into not only the meaning of the word ‘Delicate’ but how a sudden change in circumstance can force someone to adjust their lives and learn more about those around them. Everyone has a story.