"C-12: Enough and The Chair."
by Francis Byrne on 11/10/10

Enough was the exploration of a relationship. It's lack of gender and broadness of scope was a refreshing change but its message was more often emotionally cathartic than truely artistic. At times these two women's raw physical strength and expertise, seen close up, gave a spell-binding quality.

There were some insightful moments that portrayed striking physical metaphors of relationships, but it always remained a poetic fragment that should be worked into something more worthwhile. Perhaps this was a work-in-progress product of the strange type of devising process that a small physical-theatre company engages in to create its work. After the interval i was plesantly given the impression that it was. This short piece now stood out clearly as such when placed alongside The Chair.

This story, containing no dialogue whatsoever, begins with a young man in prison for the murder of his father. It quickly transpires that it was the murder of a wife-beating father and the play begins to track the consequent relationships with his mother and girlfriend as they discover what he has done. A chair - his father's - sits downstage centre throughout and has an overbearing presence completely its own. It is a ghost and an observer rather than a piece of funiture as it watches the son struggle with the meanings and consequences of his actions.

Nuanced with a poetic subtlety of communication, The Chair's whole narrative is voiced simply using hands. In one of the mother's visits to the prison her son's hands echo the violence she once recieved. This then becomes a violence of reconciliation as the son tries to recreate the childhood finger games they played. Touching, harrowing motifs are delivered with a clear, dramatic intensity and coherence that is arresting in its texture and colours of meaning. You are not asked to wait for the end of a sentence, everything is rendered instantanious and complete. A writer of words would gawp at this deeply layered but instantly comprehendable investigation of a family's psychological relations. It achieved a level of emotional complexity and articulation that was simultaneously an expression of the wordless psychology of the son's act of murder. It never felt like there was ever a need to say anything. C-12 Dance Theatre had, with this rare and unique piece, replaced the need for conventional language.

The more i think about the themes; the collapse of speech, the silence and muteness of language and these hand motifs, i find The Chair to be a magically breathing one off. The ever-deepening recapitulation and templating of each others' mental states as their primary form of interaction and the different levels of meaning shown using the same physical parts show this to be one highly evolved working singularity.

Finally, the temporality of the son's psychology catches up with that of his actions and, having been imprisoned for the whole play, is released and allowed to unite his family in the perfect, horrible union of their previous life together - with his mother's acceptance-as-death, with his father's violent past and death - as he sits in the chair and is electrocuted.

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