The concept of Bad Faith is audacious and ambitious in equal parts: its aim is to turn the stage into an inner landscape peopled by the ghosts, thoughts and delusions of a former diva.
As we take our places we know, because the programme notes tell us so, that we are to meet Nora, once an acclaimed actress, now, 20 years after her mysterious disappearance, lost in a fog of memories and regrets. Curled up in a foetal position on the floor, dressed in a flimsy gold lamé dress, her blonde hair the untidy remnant of an old fashioned style, Nora is twilit and surrounded by soft smoke, while a subtle electronic score gradually asserts itself.
And then the whispering voices. 'I am useless.’
Two dancers, Tara d’Arquian and Laura Doelher, creep in crawling onto the stage from opposite corners of the wings. They, too, are products of the feverish mind of Nora – a perfectly calibrated performance from actress Hannah Ringham.
Bad Faith blends d’Arquian’s choreography, the evocative poetry of Jemima Foxtrot and the dreamy lighting of Icelandic designer Fridthjofur Thorsteinsson to great effect.
As Nora rises from her crumpled state, the voices in her mind lead her back to her glory days. ‘You’re a wonderful performer,’ asserts a male voice. She walks slowly downstage, smiling, ready to take her public’s adulation. She tells us, ‘I feel positive’. The soundscape brings in the briefest snatch of a Mahler adagio; then, as it evolves into the Supremes’ 'Where did our love go', Nora and her two companions break into dance.
The jolly mood won’t last. Nora can’t face the truth, she falls back into pitying self-deception.
For a large part of its 60 minutes, Bad Faith is profoundly engaging, its themes of identity and loss clear and often poignant, the blend of all its component elements seamless.
However, the piece lacks development, and once its themes have been established, it goes nowhere, so that even with a couple of minor coups de theatre (no spoilers, though!) its narrative arc appears to stall.
Bad Faith is, nevertheless, a highly original work, and one that pushes the boundaries of performance with intelligence, a spirit of inquiry and great awareness of theatre's elasticity. It deserves to be seen and enjoyed.
|What||Tara D'Arquian, Bad Faith, Laban Theatre|
|Where||Laban Building, Creekside, London, SE8 3DZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Cutty Sark (underground)|
On 28 Sep 18, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour approx no interval
|Price||£15 (concessions £12)|
|Website||Click here to book via Trinity Laban|