Have I read anything by Borges? I consulted my bookshelf. Given the mauled state of the book I found, yes, I have. “One of the greatest writers of the 20th Century” the cover notes tell me – I probably should have read more. Like a student who hasn’t done his homework I approached the New Diorama Theatre, a pleasant oasis amidst the towering cut glass financial institutions it nestles in the shadows of. “Boor-jey?”, “Boar –ga?”. The programme includes a reading list, oh dear.
The New Diorama is a production company led theatre that tries to give fledgling outfits like Idle Motion, the creators of Borges and I, the infrastructure and resources to make great theatre.
And if Borges and I is anything to go by they are doing an excellent job. The production by Idle Motion was a beautifully thought out ensemble piece. The use of wonderfully choreographed physical theatre, projected imagery and a constantly transmogrifying set combined to produce vivid vignettes of Borges life. These were offset by a contemporary love story built around an everyday British book group that kept the play grounded and accessible.
Although these two narrative strands worked well together with the action passing seamlessly from one story to another I did sometimes wish we could spend more time in Borges bucolic world than that of the quotidian book group. That being said the company’s clear creative amity did produce many excellent comic moments with Grace Chapman’s performance as Hilary, the authoritarian leader of the reading club, proving to be particularly funny.
The show received an excellent reception at the Edinburgh fringe this year and not without good reason. This is a company that had put in the hours developing this work and the result is a performance that is a bittersweet homage to the power of the written word, and the quiet solace a book can bring.
I left the theatre and passed beneath the bright banking lights again, itching to pick up a book, and revel in the glorious power of a well turned phrase.
By Nick Rushton
New Diorama Theatre is an 80 seat theatre based just off Regent’s Park in the heart of central London. Unique in the capital for our development and support of emerging and established theatre companies, in our first two years we welcomed close to 30,000 audience members to theatre productions, readings and other events.
Idle Motion creates highly visual theatre that places human stories at the heart of its work. Integrating creative and playful stagecraft with innovative video projection and beautiful physicality, its productions are humorous, evocative and sensitive pieces of theatre.
From small beginnings, having met at school, the company has grown rapidly over the past six years, producing five shows that have toured both nationally and internationally. Its collaborative relationship is at the centre of all that it does, and it is proud to be an Associate Company at The New Diorama, The Lowry and the Oxford Playhouse. Idle Motion is a young company with big ideas, and a huge passion for creating exciting and beautiful new work.