Near Gone

This award-winning devised piece from Two Destination Language clearly deserves its second festival run. This intimate, small-scale work focuses on a single moment yet manages perfectly considered emotional clarity and visual profundity. For those in search of a performance that isn’t burdened by any kind of ego or artistic bombast, this work from creators and performers Katherina Radeva and Alister Lownie is one to watch.

This is exquisite, unique physical theatre, and perhaps, if we’re lucky, it will be on again next year.

The piece is an exploration of the moment in-between, specifically what’s lost or inexpressible in this moment—the ‘ever-not-quite’ of human experience. It is, after all, called Near Gone rather than simply Gone. The event in question concerns Radeva’s younger sister and a tragic accident on a summer’s day in her native Bulgaria. 

To say more than this is unnecessary and also impossible, for Near Gone never specifies precisely what occurred that day. Instead, it focuses on the stories we tell ourselves in order to make sense of tragedy and pin it down in a temporal sequence: 'this is what happened then'. Radeva continues to start and restart her story, speaking in Bulgarian with Lownie translating alongside of her. 

She never makes it past a certain point in the story, though, without breaking into frantic, anguished movement. It puts one in mind of the ballet The Red Shoes and the phrase ‘dancing herself to death’. The translation begins as a comic conceit — she’s frustrated with Lownie’s word choice and delivery — but as the story unfolds and we become aware of his role in it, the gaps in translation take on new meaning. 

Lownie is close to this tragedy, and yet very far away. He can’t experience what Katherina’s going through, and though he tries to make her account factual and impose order, he’s powerless to help. Near Gone captures the anguish of the moment between life and death, the untranslatable space in which there’s nothing within human power to change events. In that moment, we can only hope.

It’s a beautifully staged and performed show. Radeva has an innocent, childish physicality and delivery that recalls her absent little sister. She carries the emotional and physical weight of the show, but it’s Lownie who is tasked with attempting to explain the aftermath of the accident. 

To see him break down is all the more emotional, as it feels like our bemused hired interpreter has been caught up in the story all along. The music and lighting are both perfectly considered and deeply affecting — nothing about this performance feels overdone or manipulative. Bunches of fresh flowers — the single stage element — are stunningly manipulated to evoke grief and worry.

This is exquisite, unique physical theatre, and perhaps, if we’re lucky, it will be on again next year. 

Reviews by Lauren Moreau

Summerhall

Near Gone

★★★★★
Dance Base

An Invitation...

★★★
Greenside @ Nicolson Square

She Loves Me

★★★★
Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar

Champagne Tutored Tasting

★★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Last year's sell-out Total Theatre Award winner returns for just five performances. Near Gone brings two performers, hundreds of fresh flowers and a gripping story to the stage. Playing with translation, the unknowable and the gulfs between us, the show boasts Bulgarian, English, gypsy-inspired music and terrific dance to create a storm of emotion. This is a performance piece that packs a punch, transforming your very sense of what it is to be a mother, a father, a child. You'll leave more fully alive than ever. ‘Near perfect’ (Total Theatre Magazine). ‘Truly affecting, memorable and life-affirming’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com).

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