Review: Circle of Fifths

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Tron Theatre, Glasgow 2-4th June 2016
4 Stars (4 / 5)

Nothing happens yet everything changes. The Circle of Fifths, directed by Matt Lenton, is a devised performance based on the literal translation (by Agnieszka Lenton) of a Polish text of the same name, written by Szymon Bogacz and adapted by Aleksandra Poplawska. It is hauntingly beautiful and introspective, as we enter the lives and hearts of a group of travelers spending the night in a school after being snowed in the night before Christmas Eve.

The production, characteristic of Matt Lenton’s artistry, is intimate and spectacular at the same time. For an hour and a half, the audience is transported from the Tron Changing House into a void—part gymnasium, part dreamscape, but beautifully discordant and removed from the rest of the world. Yet, the show is profoundly connected to the human experience and relatable.

The actors portray characters with simplicity but are filled with a depth of emotions and experiences that one can only comprehend from the heart. Remaining onstage for the entire show after a dramatically snowy entrance, the audience sees them shift in an out of consciousness, seeking solace in a cigarette or sometimes with each other. Although the play seems like a long introduction of all the characters, these beings come with desires and fears, presenting a microscopic view of their histories. The relationship that emerges between these characters and the audience is so subtle, that the audience only realizes how attached they have grown to these strangers when the death of one of them is announced.

Simple but sincere, it was apparent that the audience did not want this snowy night to end, and after the lights go out there is a looming hope that dawn does not come for a while yet. Perhaps, like me, they go to bed that night wanting to know more about these travelers; unfortunately, they may never exist again.