THEATRE BATH Review October 17th 2014 -
Inspired by the story of Kafka's love for his Muse Felice. A love affair that was on paper but rarely in person despite his protestations that 'love needs weight, bodies need to be there.’ He could articulate this in letters but not follow it through in the flesh.
In Felice we see a tender journey from hope to despair to anger to desolation, in him we witness his inability to either be with her or let her go forever. He jumps through walls, climbs around the edges of the set and does anything to avoid being present. Felice on the other hand uses every trick in the book to bring him back to her, from a gentle reach for his hand, to soothing gestures and cling on to his back.
The visceral nature of this piece is articulated through stunningly constructed movement, which transfixed us and drew us into the deep emotional landscape. The work transported us into a world of love, pain, loss and heartbreak that washed over us, in waves. There was a great sensitivity to the piece as a whole. Some sections were beautiful, slow and drawn out, while others contained contrasting dynamic fast pace action. ‘Küsse’ trusts the audience to follow.
We were captivated by the physical duets throughout, a lovely chemistry and tension was created between the two performers. Each performer fantastically embodied the distress and desperation of their individual character, the more sweaty and exhausted they appeared the more engaged we became.
Before the piece begun the audience was presented with a strong image of fragility and vulnerability through the set, (room made from paper). Simple yet extremely effective as it suggests impermanence and hints of a destruction that is yet to come. Along the way are some brilliant moments of interaction, Kafka with his writing pencils and Felice with her dreams of a home, all became locked away in a suitcase. As their love is destroyed so is the entire set, this created a wonderful and striking visual image.
This stunning piece of theatre was a pleasure to watch, we were moved and engaging from start to finish.
Authors Alice Barton and K’lo Harris
18th October 2014
Whilst writing his greatest works (including The Metamorphosis), Kafka was engaged to a woman named Felice Bauer, a stenographer from Berlin. Whilst he wrote over 200 letters to her (later released in the book ‘Letters to Felice’), Kafka was never really ‘present’ in their relationship and pushed Felice away, preferring to keep her in his mind and on paper.
This is the story told through stunning physical theatre by Thompson and Hills-Ingyon, who shyly observe each other until they finally connect, finally speak only to force themselves apart again. Using repeated gestures, slow movement and bursts of action driven by their fear and passion, they briefly share a room that is small and yet holds them worlds apart.
A theme apparent throughout the performance is control. Felice and Kafka both want to control the way in which their relationship is conducted and the performers demonstrate admirable control over their bodies as they push, pull, extend and create repeated motifs. Both characters mention Kafka’s desperate fear, which kept him from committing to Felice and made him feel insignificant – a feeling reflected in his work.
The design is sparse – one room constructed with flimsy wooden beams, paper walls and two chairs create a setting which is destroyed with the demise of their relationship. Paper is a key element of the piece, with one particular sequence seeing Felice desperately write letters on the walls only for Kafka to stab them, tear them and miss them altogether. Both characters carry a suitcase, each seeming to represent their hopes or needs – Felice’s endless stockings, sexy negligee and dolls’ house furniture is a stark contrast to Kafka’s solitary suit jacket.
Moving, elegant performances are complemented by music that varies somewhere between eerie and romantic, emphasising the tragedy of the doomed love story. The piece would have more suited a black-box theatre than the doors and corridors of the University setting, however after enchanting audiences in Exeter and Belgium, Felice and Kafka’s love lives on through this imaginative and wonderfully devised theatre.
Review for ExeterIgnite, Wildfire magazine by Roger Jarman. June 2014 Exeter Phoeonix
(…) Just as the deluge of letters from Franz to Felice had slowly reeled her in, so I found myself increasingly seduced by the intensity of this performance. On the one side, Richard Hills-Ingyon, embodied the anguish of a young author buzzing with ideas. On the other, the porcelain beauty of Lauren Thompson mesmerised me with her delicate hand-movement, gloved and naked in her silence (none of her letters survived), she became increasingly eloquent. Both actors (dancers?) were superb. I have never in any medium – seen the portrayal of the death of a love affair that so resonated so strongly with my own experience. (….) The gold of passion is easily transmuted into the heavy lead of recrimination.
Audience’s Comments from Liege, Belgium June 2014:
Beautiful music, beautiful lighting, beautiful set, beautiful love story. Words are useless when moves are so meaningful.
A very poetic performance, served by two brilliant comedians, about life, love and the sense of loss!
This was wonderful, daring, poignant work!
Amazing actors, performance, and corporal movement. Keep doing it like this!