Near Gone

“This is a difficult story to tell,” performer Katherina Radeva warns us in Bulgarian through her translator and fellow performer, Alister Lownie, at the start of Near Gone. She is not wrong. Intimately exploring the themes of grief, loss and potential loss, the subject matter of Near Gone is not easy to talk about. However, Radeva and Lownie’s harrowing story is told with great beauty, sensitivity and humour, creating art that is truly affecting, memorable and life-affirming.

Despite the well-worn and familiar themes, Near Gone is a consideration of pain that is fresh, insightful and utterly captivating.

Radeva’s story is of a family tragedy. Three years ago, she received a call from her mother in Bulgaria informing Radeva of an accident. Radeva’s 4-year old sister had been seriously injured and was in hospital. What happened exactly to Radeva’s sister is never fully explained, but this is not the point of the piece. What Radeva and Lownie are interested in is demonstrating what this type of grief can do to a person and how it feels to be stuck in the limbo of ‘unknowing’.

Radeva tells her story in Bulgarian, ‘translated’ line by line by Lownie. It is evocative and poetic language, where tourists lying on the beach at Sofia are like “burnt crabs.” As she speaks, Radeva creates clear, physical movements to further describe a place or explain a feeling. She is insistent that Lownie’s translation is exact. Sometimes he translates something and it is not quite right, or he doesn’t repeat an action the way she wants him to and she has to correct him. It is a neat way of constantly reminding us of the inherent loss of meaning that occurs when we attempt to translate an emotion into language and share it with another. The ‘failed’ translations also bring about welcome moments of lightness and humour. Radeva’s storytelling movements are constantly repeated, allowing us to see the effect the incident is having on Radeva physically. Often, Radeva’s story gets too much for her and words fail, leaving her to express herself through an increasingly manic and emotionally charged dance.

Two neat lines of white carnation bouquets simply and attractively frame the playing space as the audience enters, bringing to mind funerals and mourning. They are increasingly destroyed and flung about by Radeva in her anguished dancing, mirroring the disorder and confusion that comes through heartbreak. Radeva and Lownie are dressed in stark, grey clothes and cut striking figures amongst the white flowers.

Despite the well-worn and familiar themes, Near Gone is a consideration of pain that is fresh, insightful and utterly captivating.  

Reviews by Jenny Williams

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The Blurb

Two performers have a difficult story to tell. They come on stage and launch themselves into an hour long attempt to put into words the utterly unspeakable. Delivered in English and Bulgarian, with pounding gypsy-inspired music, this beautiful performance fills an empty space with two performers, hundreds of fresh flowers and a storm of emotion. A performance piece that packs a punch - transforming your very sense of what it is to be a mother, a father, a child. And you’ll leave more fully alive than ever. Audiences say 'immensely powerful and life-enhancing', 'brilliant, original, energetic and beautiful'.