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This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/in-transit-blue-elephant-theatre-london/

A bare stage, a cello and double bass player on the side of the stage and Florence Leon’s squat like stance and expressive face are poised for a whirlwind story of Ella. This physical theatre piece takes the audience through the fragmented memories of Ella and the trauma that has led her to this point. It includes fragments of lucid conversations, the mundane event of a school run and the odd journey on public transport, and some more visual manifestations of a troubled mind.

Leon’s strength is in her sheer persuasive energy and the conviction in her performance. Her cartoonish exaggeration, together with sound effects and expression is a source of great enjoyment. The mime-based physical performance, along with dialogue when necessary suits the storytelling very well. The humour is sweet and childlike and the necessary absurdity takes the form of a TV quiz show delivering the extent of the tragedy, just like a vivid bad dream.

But as the show progresses, the charm begins to wear off and the lack of narrative and insights begin to take their toll on the concentration. Ultimately, the idea of Ella is difficult to grasp due to the constant change of characters. However strong the performance is, it is hard to escape the need for an emotional link or even a mood setting which is sadly missing. The music by Rhys Lovell, who also plays the double bass, supports the work well and provides a balance to Leon’s performance. It is suitably restrained and leaves plenty of room for the visual.

Photo: Tom Wichelow

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