Quaternary

This is a difficult play to review as it is very clever and well-acted but also hard to understand. The easiest way to explain it is probably to reproduce part of the programme notes:Quaternary depicts moments of epiphany in the lives of four friends during a trip to Iceland to see a glacier – said to be ‘the first breath of God frozen at the site of creation’. Based on true personal stories, and overlaid with melting soundscapes and vocalizations, the journey evokes the Fall, the Son of Man, Hell, Adam in Eden, Satan and God inspired by Milton’s four-hundred year old text, Paradise Lost.Quaternary takes a post-dramatic approach to theatre associated with the raw liveness found in works by Castelucci, The Wooster Group and Forced Entertainment. The method avoids detailed conformity to a text or suggestions of definitive messages, and instead distils an emotive essence of personal revelation – ‘darkness visible’ – to affect an audience.One of the problems I had with this production was that the stories told by the actors as they travel to and from the glacier are based on their own lives. The actors gave strong and committed performances but, as they are all at school or have only recently left, their stories are not particularly dramatic. I feel that this would work better with a school audience, who would relate more easily to these stories.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

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The Blurb

A trip to Iceland, moments of epiphany, the soundscape of a dying glacier. 'Paradise Lost' powerfully and sensorially distilled in this festival debut. Past Fringe productions by the writer/director: 'A joy to behold' (Scotsman). 'Truly remarkable' (Stage).

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