Hundreds of flowers, a whirl of feelings, speech and silence, a story almost too difficult to tell yet imaginatively conveyed with warmth and humor – Near Gone, a production of Two Destination Language by Katherina Radeva and Alister Lownie, was performed last night at the Cameri Theatre International Theatre Festival. Bouquets of pink carnations lined the stage at either side, an image of growth and bloom, yet at the same time, evoking thoughts of death and funerals.
The soft pink flowers (last night at the Cameri they were pink) create a border, a framework within which the two actors explore the possibilities and limitations of language to tell a story. There is a sense of ritual, as, speaking in Bulgarian, accompanied by movement, Katherina says: “This is a difficult story to tell.” It is a halting narrative, conveyed in fragments, as each sentence or group of words is translated into English by Alister, who stands by her side, his upright stiff body in contrast to Katherina’s curving movement. The interaction between the two, her insistence that he perform each gesture and the progression of his mirroring, is amusing to watch; the humor and rapport between the two invites the audience closer. They make us part of this story in the telling.
At some points the narrative simply breaks down, and words are not enough. Katerina bursts into a dance of fury and ecstasy, bunches of flowers in her hand flying and lying strewn on the stage, all to the exuberant trumpet and gypsy rhythms of Goran Bregović’s Kalasnikov. The dance takes us where words cannot go, into an unknown space of thoughts, feelings, and contradictions.
The act of translation onstage embodies the abyss that stretches between the words spoken, the feelings, and intentions of the speaker, and the way these words are comprehended, imagined, by the listener. Is it possible to understand and experience the pain of another person? Is it possible to help and connect? Near Gone is a poignant, poetic exploration, infused with love and a celebration of life.
Near Gone will be performed at the Cameri Theatre on Thursday, December 15th at 21:00. Tickets may be purchased from the Cameri Theatre website.
Devised and performed by Katherina Radeva and Alister Lownie; Dramaturgy: Charlotte Vincent; Additional direction: Charlotte Vincent; Sound Design: Tim Blazdell
The play is performed in Bulgarian and English with Hebrew surtitles.