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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Ockham's Razor at Cambridge's Corn Exchange : Not Until We Are Lost

A new show at Cambridge’s Corn Exchange by aerial theatre group Ockham's Razor

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (28 August to 7 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

17 December (closing Tweet added, 28 December)

Glimpses of the dress rehearsal of a new show at Cambridge’s Corn Exchange (@CambridgeCornEx), by aerial theatre group Ockham’s Razor (@AlexOckhams) : Not Until We Are Lost

Although sounding like it could quote the works of Samuel Beckettt, the title derives from Henry Thoreau’s Walden*, but no knowledge of Emerson’s or his transcendentalist thought (or of Beckettt) is necessary to an appreciation of what is to be seen and heard…

In around half-a-dozen scena, which seem to defy transparent and scaffolding materials by the forces that are exerted on them (though this is no lesson in dynamics or Newtonian principle), aerial theatre group Ockham’s Razor (@AlexOckhams) tell a series of stories – the exact meaning, though, is for us to interpret, even as it would be if we had words, rather than actions and interactions, to construe…

Afterwards, co-director Alex Harvey said that what appears before the audience is open to interpretation, and fellow directors Charlotte Mooney and Tina Koch even felt that saying that there is a choir as part of the musical accompaniment is not a give-away, so here goes :

Image by, courtesy of and © Copyright Gilly Marklew 2014

Some of the scena (involving all four performers (Alex plus Hamish Tjoeng, Grania Picard and Telma Pinto) on a giant scaffolding climbing-frame, which later becomes a swing) seem euphoric, even utopian, with a triumph of collective behaviour and what modern jargon calls ‘working together’, but not all of them.

One seems to revolve, more unfortunately, around the conjoined roles of Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel, another that of a young woman pestered by the attentions of two similar men, who appear to be hunting her as if in a pack and to win her confidence : it all ends with seemingly innocent fun and enjoyment, but what has she been cajoled into, and for what reason ?

Image (of Telma Pinto) by, courtesy of and © Copyright Gilly Marklew 2014

Paper rips and tears, and the performers bodies fly between or across the face of, blunt scaffolding-poles, with no room for error, no avoiding the consequence of a mistake, and, as already alluded to, the transparent material is tested, seemingly to its limits :

It is in that medium of a clear tower, which sometimes seems more than merely a box in cross-section, that we have scope both for what seems survival of the fittest pushed to its extremes, and for the greatest elation. In the latter case, maybe a release from a – maybe Narcissistically-created – invisible prison that could be what we conveniently call 'depression', and where love, and responding when another reaches out, are part of the healing.

Image (of Alex Harvey and Telma Pinto) by, courtesy of and © Copyright Gilly Marklew 2014

Never pulling its punches, in the fitness of the guitar- or harp-like melodies, dissonances, arpeggios, the physicality and riskiness of the performances, and the theatrical content of the scena, Ockham’s Razor (@AlexOckhams) give more than an entertainment :

All at once, something that, by turns, can be seen as encouraging, cynical, or appalling, but always thought provoking, and never compromising with the belief in realiz[ing] where we are and the infinite extent of our relations (Thoreau*).

A follow-up piece, featuring Gilly's sketchings from her images after the event, is linked here ...

The show runs at Cambridge's Corn Exchange from 18 to 21 December.


* Specifically, chapter 8 (‘The village’), where Thoreau starts by talking about being physically disoriented, and having to put one of several visitors on the right track in the dark, being guided rather by his feet than his eyes.

Following the observation It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable experience, to be lost in the woods any time, Thoreau develops the thought ,with the effect of snow, and of night added to it, ending the section where the words occur, first in a different form, then as quoted (but he is clearly no longer to be read as writing just about the visual world and mistaking one’s way, any more than Canto I of Inferno) :

In our most trivial walks, we are constantly, though unconsciously, steering like pilots by certain well-known beacons and headlands, and if we go beyond our usual course we still carry in our minds the bearing of some neighboring cape; and not till we are completely lost, or turned round — for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost — do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature. Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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