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The Vanishing Horizon

4 starsTouring England and Wales during April and May (schedule and information)
Reviewed at the New Diorama Theatre, London by Alice de Cent

Idle Motion’s devised piece The Vanishing Horizon follows James, as he records a radio programme that looks into the lives of trailblazing female aviators. It juxtaposes their stories with that of his girlfriend, Anna, who flies to South Africa to reclaim her grandmother’s ashes – and ends up following in her adventurous footsteps.

This visually gifted company are certainly masters of invention, creating some stunning set-pieces that are both magical and full of handmade charm. The set is constructed of an almost never-ending supply of suitcases, each opening to reveal an ingeniously created part of the world.  As the story progresses, they become bookcases, mini-bars and mountainscapes.

The ensemble are enthusiastic and committed performers, who present their painstakingly crafted moments with a playful and winning ingenuity. As they create dirigibles from balloons, and biplanes with little more than a fan and a torch, they evoke the spirit of the fearless women they depict. They capture the sense of adventure of the age; the homemade quality of the effects lends them a beautiful fragility.  

The dialogue, however, is outstripped by the stage pictures, leaving the show a little unevenly paced; and the narrative doesn’t quite manage to draw the two stories together satisfactorily. Because this young company is so visually accomplished, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being disappointed with anything less than perfection. All the same, despite the flaws in the storytelling, this remains an enjoyable and affecting hour.

The Vanishing Horizon has its imperfections, but it also has a captivating ingenuity that makes them easy to forgive. The hour was punctuated with true moments of delight, drawing audible gasps from the audience. Adept and inventive, Idle Motion are certainly a company to watch.

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