I’m trying to type quickly as you will need to be fast to get to this show.
Really: you ought to read this, book a ticket and go fast as it’s only on in its current venue until this Sunday.*
Scarabeus Aerial Theatre are currently performing their show Depths of my Mind at the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon. Depths of my Mind has been developed in partnership with the Polka Theatre as part of its Brain Waves Festival, which is a new, exciting festival where science meets theatre. Depths of my Mind is aimed at the interesting age group of 10 to 18 year olds, and is inspired by the U-Change study led by scientists from the Neuroscience in Psychiatry Network (or NSPN). This research is looking at the way the adolescent mind and brain develops into early adulthood.
Depths of my Mind is an immersive show which invites you in to walk around the space amongst the performers. The blank dark space has just four transparent platforms in it, a few ropes suspended from the ceiling, a few poles, and there is a big screen at the back; this is used for different functions, most notably to show the action which is happening in the room, but from different angles which you might not be seeing yourself. These few props are used to original, magical effect.
The four performers, two female and two male, are highly physical but are also convincing actors. Using the platforms to play on and run on, to twist and jump on, using the poles to climb and fall from, we catch a glimpse into the minds of teenagers. What it feels like to make friends, to flirt, to fall in love, to feel jealous, to feel alone. You feel their emotions along with them – their joy and their bliss, their hurt and their pain.
The platforms are versatile in that they can be horizontal and act like floors, or vertical and be like mirrors. As they are transparent, you can also watch through them from underneath. One of the most beautiful parts has the two female performers mirroring each other’s actions, either side of the vertical ‘mirror’, and the male performers doing the same. The height of the platforms also creates a difference. When one platform is placed in a low position, with one girl lying on top of it and swinging, it has a very special effect when the other girl rolls underneath it. And another effect when that second girl climbs on top of the rocking platform too, and curls up beside the first one (to the tune of ‘Hear the noise that moves so soft and low’ by James Vincent McMorrow). It’s a sublime moment.
At one point the men rock the platforms so wildly that, with the audience sitting pretty much beneath them and looking up at them, it is as if they are about to fall on our heads. The skill of the performers is exciting (but before you get anxious about anyone’s safety, they are harnessed, and the stewards ensure we don’t stand or sit in a dangerous position).
There are few words but the soundtrack is very important and the choice of songs by diverse artists from Eminem to Patti Smith via Tracy Chapman and Radiohead moves the experience up by another notch. It is almost heartbreaking to watch some of the scenes; the performers say so much with just a movement or a look set against the right musical background.
All four performers are amazing. I fell a bit in love with each one of them. Afterwards we were asked to sum up the show in three words. I couldn’t think of three words that were enough. Acrobatic, wonderful, touching, beautiful, amazing, emotional, moving, all of this and more. My children loved it too and said stunning and awesome and cool.
Please try and get to this show while you still can. It really is very special.
*Until 2nd October at the BRIT School as part of Polka Theatre’s Brain Waves Festival. After that the show moves to Forest Arts Centre, Walsall, and Gulbenkian, Canterbury. More details can be found here.
Disclosure: We were given press tickets to review Depths of my Mind.