The Rising Voices strand is a new element of the Manipulate Festival. This selection of performances looks to present works in progress that are very close to completion and require a full staging before a final production is ready. Possibly best described as an early preview, this evening the performance Nino gets the chance to be presented in front of an audience, ready to receive some final feedback.
Nino has been devised by the Glasgow-based theatre company Tidy Carnage and begins with physical theatre performer Melanie Jordan stood to the side of the stage. In front of her are cans of beans, which she turns over and scrapes on the hard wooden block that makes up the sparse and minimal set. Drone music plays to present an eerie and disconcerting soundtrack. Music itself plays a big part in the performance where the turmoils of a woman who lives in poverty is showcased through movement, mine, soundscapes and physical theatre.
Although still a work in progress, the themes of Nino are loud, clear and succinctly presented onstage. Jordan’s anxiety is fully expressed through coy and reluctant movements, whilst audio clips of news reports underline the brevity and seriousness of the topic of poverty. The stark and emotionless language contrasts the expressive visuals, presenting us with a personal and emotional struggle.
The Rising Voices strand proves to be an innovative and important selection of performances; it is an excellent way of getting new work to audiences. Nino tackles an important subject and does not feel contrived or condescending. Through the physical elements we know we are viewing a contemporary take on modern-day poverty. Themes of austerity, menstruation and humour are delivered with precision and care by the exceptional and brilliant performance by Jordan. It will be interesting to see the next iteration of the show.