Alan Humphreys and Heledd Gywn show little restraint, no holding back, in their physical storytelling in this mature and engaging work Ti.Me from Sherman’s company in residence, Cwmni Pleun. They give their all and the result is s emotionally gripping as the relationship they reveal.
This is the partly generic, partly biographical tale of two people who, put most simply, move from first meeting through the gamut of relationship joys, angst, challenges, fulfillment and despair.
With two cleverly developed metaphors, the breakdown or lack of communication by not both speaking each other’s language, and a similar dexterity to learn how to dance together, this work has a natural, intelligently simple vehicle for the storytelling.
It reminded me of Shh!, the collaboration between Roy Campbell-Moore and visual artist Sue Williams that was performed by Jem Treays and Chloe Loftus, but freer, perhaps younger and more innocent.
While Shh! had no dialogue and relied entirely on dance and performance movement, Ti.Me also has the spoken word which was in both English and in Welsh. The lack of the male partner’s ability to understand his Welsh-speaking partner added another dimension to the barrier of communication in relationship. I did at time, however, similarly find it a barrier to totally following the 45 minute event.
The most impressive sections are at the beginning of the relationship from their awkward meeting in a club, getting to know each other, emotionally and sexually – at time with hilarious effect and at time excruciatingly embarrassing.
Despite the language barrier and one liking cats and the other dogs (probably a big barrier) they nervously start their life together. It proves a joyful and frustrating, passionate and then destructive experience all played out between two banks of seated audience. In a short work it is hard to see quite why their relationship turned sour so quickly, nor any real comprehension of the passage of time beyond our immersion in those early moments, days and few years. Maybe that is all there was of this relationship.
We knew from the production notes that the relationship was doomed but that darkness hung over much of the interaction with the intricate, often anguish-ridden and driven movement warning us what was happening to these people. Ultimately the work was moving and raw, not in the quality or style of performance but in the exposure and insight these two people give us into their lives, their own personalities, their insecurities and hidden hopes. I found much of the early part true and reminiscent of my own relationship’s early days. However, I wondered whether the development through the movement and desperate attempts to verbally communicate across barriers could have ended with, shock horror, a happy relationship.
Maybe they just weren’t read for that Tie and the Time was not right. Like their dancing, they just could not keep in step or really breach that communication barrier.
The score adds another level of sensitivity to the performance and in all Cwmni Pluen have proven the ability of the company (ie the small creative team) to present work that has the integrity of the performers and the need and skill to reach out to audience members.
Director / Co-Devisor: Gethin Evans
Writer / Co-Devisor: Elgan Rhys
Cast: Heledd Gwynn, Alan Humphreys
Musician / Sound Artist: Chris Young
Producer Olivia Harris
Stage Manager / Lighting Designer: Sophie Westmoreland