Coming after what has been a horrific and heartbreaking week for Manchester and the surrounding North West areas there has been a large surge in artistic response from the community; the penning of touching poems, sketching of Mancunian spirit and re-appreciating art work owing to is newly interpreted relevance.
Mark Murphy VTOL’s Out Of This World definitely fits in to the latter; conceived as as love story rife with the tragedy of protagonist Ellen who is in a medically induced coma, the piece looks at the fragility of life and incomprehensible cognitions of a mind processing grief.
The show itself is absurd in the extreme, characters are detached and scenes disjointed – however in a remarkable way this is both the failure and success of the piece’s message. The style is set in a grey area between abstract and reality and although perhaps fitting to the subject matter this makes it hard to empathise with the very real situation being portrayed -stepping into the theatre’s apron the protagonist speaks to the audience reminding us this isn’t real and forgiving us for not suspending our disbelief.
The problem for me is that at points there is a real sincerity that provokes deep thought and emotion as an audience member, however especially at the start of the piece this is presented between profound pretentiousness which serves to apologise for and weaken what is in its essence a story full of sorrow and remorse.
The piece relies heavily on aerial sequences and dramatic video projections which enliven the stage with ultrasound brain scans, heart monitors, actors walking walls and chairs which dangle threateningly from the ceiling. The aesthetic qualities for me bring the piece closer to visual art than to theatre, it’s success lies in its ability to be interpreted and comprehended as a work of art and of spectacle.
Whilst undoubtedly flawed, Out Of This World is presented with an uncompromising integrity which doesn’t sugar-coat the dark fatalities of this world and gives insight to whatever may be beyond it.