Date: 22 April 2015
As the audience take their seats for Idle Motion’s Shooting With Light, I could hear some deep in discussion about photography – not just the technical intricacies but how it makes them feel. When the play opens with a scene revealing the discovery of a boxed set of negatives, it is reflective of the need to unearth the past through photography, shining some light on the stories of conflict and war, life and death, that need to be heard. Gerda Taro was the first female photojournalist who lost her life on the front-line and she is brought to light in this powerful, beautiful and passionate production.
The main story is set in the 1930’s and it is essentially a love story between Gerda, a German refugee and Andre, a budding Hungarian photographer. Through their shared love of photography, Gerda gives Andre the confidence to sell his work under the alternative name of Bob Capa and he teaches her how to use a camera. Meanwhile, a parallel story about Capa’s brother, Cornell, runs neatly alongside the main love story. This story is set at a later date and long after Capa’s death when Cornell, an old man, struggles to find a missing box of Capa’s negatives.
Sophie Cullen’s performance as Taro is spirited and charming – she conveys Gerda Taro’s positivity, independence and bravery well. Some of the scenes between Taro and Bob Capa, played by Tom Radford, are particularly poignant and well choreographed and their relationship is believable – from the moment they connect over a roll of film to the tense scene when Taro chooses to return to capture the Spanish Civil War.
The atmospheric soundscape by Chris Bartholomew really aids the narrative – moving through from the romantic and nostalgic to the claustrophobic and loud which suggests the chaos and brutality of war. The choreography in the physical sections is slick, and despite the parallel story and frequent flashbacks everything moves fluidly and without confusion. Most importantly, there is a real sense that Idle Motion worked collaboratively with Grace Chapman, Sophie Cullen, Nathan Parkinson, Ellie Simpson, Julian Spooner and Kate Stanley all devising, writing and directing, as well as 4 of these members performing also.
Ellen Nabarro’s set is minimalist with a grid of little doors forming the backdrop for a lot of the action. It is clever staging and with the help of the lighting design by Greg Cebula, film and photographs, it easily suggests an apartment window, a fridge, a cinema screen and a phone booth with ease. The cast move around the stage beautifully, with the physical sections adding a further dimension to the play -not only by aiding the passage of time and guiding the audience through the story but in the way that they felt as though they were choreographed with a photographers eye in mind.
Idol Motion really impressed with Shooting With Light – they are definitely a company I’ll be looking out for in future and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Shooting With Light is running in The Lowry Studio until Friday 24th April