64 Squares
  • By Liam Rees
  • |
  • 28th Aug 2015
  • |
  • ★★★★★

'Welcome to my mind. Sorry about the mess.' Rhum and Clay Theatre Company have no need to apologise, as their new show 64 Squares is a joy to watch, starting with a bang and continuing with a frenetic energy that never drops. On the surface, 64 Squares may be a show about chess but, on a more profound level, it’s about free will, memory and identity.

By the end we’re left shaken and doubting our own abilities to understand our memories and the stories we create about our own lives.

We’re introduced to the character of B on a ship to America. After being imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo he tries to piece together his memories. B is portrayed by actors Julian Spooner, Matthew Wells and Roisin O’Mahony, and together with musician Fred McLaren they work in perfect harmony to evoke a mind on the verge of implosion.

The Lecoq-trained company use their impressive mimetic skills and simple props to bring B’s ever-changing memories to life. Chess, a game in which there are countless actions, reactions and chain of events, acts as a metaphor for B’s traumatised life and fragmented memories.

McLaren’s percussive score is as integral to the storytelling as the striking visuals and the actors’ direct address, all of which is used to extraordinary effect. The music and live sound effects, also created by McLaren, provide us with the primal, emotional side of B’s consciousness that comes straight from the gut and is incapable of expressing itself through language.

By the end we’re left shaken and doubting our own abilities to understand our memories and the stories we create about our own lives. This is an ironic turn for a company that has clearly mastered the art of imaginative storytelling. 

Reviews by Liam Rees

Pleasance Courtyard

Bible John

★★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

America Is Hard to See

★★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

CONSPIRACY

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

UNCONDITIONAL

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Signals

★★★
Summerhall

Everything Not Saved

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

'You might have noticed there are four of me. Don't worry. You'll get used to it. I have.' 1939. B wants to tell you about how he ended up on a cruise ship, playing chess against the current world chess champion. He wants to tell you all about his life and the choices he's made. The problem? He's been split into four and can't remember what happened. Accompanied by a live jazz percussive score, a tale of madness, memory and chess, adapted from Stefan Zweig's The Royal Game. 'Beautifully imaginative, with real emotional heft' **** (ExeuntMagazine.com).

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