Review: If These Bodies Could Speak (Cape Town Fringe)


tumblr_nclu34oXYE1tifrlno1_400The award-winning Matchbox Theatre Collective performs a physical theatre work that taps into a universal theme to which anyone and everyone can relate: the fluctuation of a relationship where two people love, fight, argue, make up, lose themselves and inevitably find love again.

If These Bodies Could Speak examines the instinctive experience of the body as viewed from the inside out, revealing the ‘lived’ experience that vocalizes emotion thus allowing the body to ‘speak’.

Award-winning actor/dancers Bailey Snyman and Nicola Haskins embody typical human emotions and issues that arise from being in a close relationship with another person. The familiarity and experience of the duo is evident in movement that is constant, swift and slick as they progress from lucid and agile moments of intimacy and affection to aggressive and abrupt outbursts of disconnection and friction. By interchanging one other’s weight, an organic and heavy element is created.

With clever use of multi-media effects a nice touch of humour is brought to the piece. Snyman and Haskins display the frustration and agitation felt during an intermittently connecting Skype video call – a very physical example of broken communication. Similarly a projection on the cyclorama of text messages sent by two people unable to sleep not only plants the piece firmly in the present day but is an anchor for the audience’s understanding of the progression of the relationship as well as allowing space for the dancers to express with their movement what the mind is feeling.

tumblr_nclu34oXYE1tifrlno2_1280The music amplifies the movement by creating distinct shifts in mood from the elegant melodies of passion and intimacy to the aquatic noises of disturbance. An intense argument scene is made all the more bitingly real by the actors using their own voices.

Snyman and Haskins use torches, lanterns and even cell phones in complete darkness as a way of highlighting different areas of the body. A particularly ingenious lighting effect is created by the shadow of Snyman’s hand controlling, manipulating and moulding the smaller shadow of Haskin’s body projected onto the back wall.

If These Bodies Could Speak encapsulates human tendencies and qualities in an extraordinary, deeply considered series of movement, visual images and subtext. A powerful and engaging performance.


Angeliki Theodorou


If These Bodies Could Speak runs at Hiddingh Hall from 25 to 29 September 2014 as part of the Cape Town Fringe Festival.

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