Tess By Ockhams Razor Review

'Tess' is an adaption of Thomas Hardy's novel 'Tess of the D'Ubervilles' by Circus company Ockhams Razor 

Tess By Ockhams Razor Review

On 15th February I had the pleasure of going to watch Tess by Ockhams Razor at the Lowry Theatre in Salford with a group of other performers who attended workshops with Ockhams Razors director, Alex Harvey. 

'Tess' is an adaption of Thomas Hardy's novel 'Tess of the D'Ubervilles' but having never read the book, I went in knowing nothing about the story and had no idea what to expect. 

I have watched lots of other shows by Ockhams Razor online but this was completely different to any I've seen before, both by them and by other companies. 

There was a cast of 7 performers, and it combined story telling with effective costume and prop usage to produce an engaging, mesmerising, although admittedly at times, confusing performance. 

I found that having the narrator helped me follow the story and it's the first circus based show I've seen that's used a narrator in such a way. Having the narrator 'Tess' telling the story and then the performer 'Tess' dancing and performing her role really helped give a fully immersive feel to the characters experiences. 

I did find the first half quite slow paced, especially compared to the second half but it had moments that created a real impact through out. 

I was grateful for the comic elements included within the show, especially the scene of playfulness between the milkmaids and Angel Clair. The scenes gave a temporary relief to an otherwise tragic and sad story. and at no point did these moments undermine or disrespect the story in any way.

I was really amazed at how the dance and circus arts were never included just for the sake of it and every movement, trick and skill was used to tell the story. This for me was what made the show so mesmerising. 

One of my favourite scenes was the use of the Cyr wheel by Alec D'Uberville to capture Tess. The performer was extremely skillful on the equipment and the use was really imaginative at demonstrating her encirclement and combined with the music and sounds was absolutely fantastic.

My biggest issue with the production for me was that I personally found the death of the horse near the start had a bigger impact than the hanging of Tess at the end. I enjoyed the Cordelisse performance to represent the gallows but felt it missed showing an obvious 'death' moment. 

Also when I walked into the theatre and saw so much rope hanging on set, as an aerialist I was expecting to see these utilised much more, so was a little disappointed when it wasn't, however I don't think this was felt by the majority of the audience and the non aerialist friends who attended with us said it wasn't something they even considered. 

During the workshops with Alex we were all able to have a play on the wall prop and the planks used in the show and it was great to see that some of the same ideas we came up with in the workshop was also used within the show. 

Overall the show was amazing and it has made me to want to see more from Ockhams Razor live. The whole production was uniquely brilliant multidisciplinary experience!

Author

Grace McDowall

Grace McDowall

Aerial Arts and Circus Performer

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