Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2010
Tempest: Without A Body
Published on Saturday, 28 August 2010
4 stars

Edinburgh International Festival
Run ended
Reviewed by Susannah Radford

Tempest: Without a Body is a sparsely beautiful piece of theatre, that frustrates and challenges as it paints a bleak picture of reality.  It fits with MAU company founder Lemi Ponifasio’s description of theatre: “the theatre is not a place to escape your life; it is a place to confront yourself.”

Confronted I certainly was; I found it hard work to sit through this show, and couldn’t link the series of images.  Movements and sequences are repeated and the pace is slow.  Tempest: Without a Body is beautifully theatrical, but very dense, and I found it hard to penetrate the world and its meaning. 

Tempest: Without a Body does speak with glorious imagery.  A man moves onto a slab, squirming as if to shed his skin of silver.  An angel holds up a bleeding hand as blood spreads on the set behind her.  Most memorable of all is one of the final images, as a man cracks a block of chalk on his head; as it forms a cloud of dust a number of men break more chalk, raining destruction around him.  The final image sees the angel walking through the rubble.

The group of dancers move almost mechanically (an amazing feat in itself) in what seems ritualistic dance.  It’s almost like they are dolls that follow a set pattern and path.  Further consolidating this idea, they move with the low hum of chant.  There is a strong Polynesian dance influence; hands slap against thighs, fingers flutter and shake.  Contrasting with them is the man apart, who moves calmly and deliberately: he’s a man in whom stillness is made manifest.

The discordant soundscape matches the landscape.  At times it sounds like pumping blood layered with the sound of a heartbeat, at others it sounds like industrial noise.  This is punctuated with the horrifying cries of the angel.  It is a cruel world they (or we?) live in.

Though I found the meaning hard to grasp, it’s by no means an empty piece.  I figure that some time in the future I will see or hear something that will trigger a memory of this work, and then, a measure of understanding will follow.  I look forward to this day... and to more of MAU’s shows.

<< The Emperor's Quest   The Beta Males' Picnic in... >>


These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

Edinburgh 2013

Coming to the Fringe this year?  We can help you make the most of your time.  Learn about Edinburgh's summer Festivals and plan your visit around the city's major events. 

Find out more >>