Review: Moving in Houses - Tramway, Glasgow

AMONG the many things we take for granted, the precise relationship between our physical bodies and the domestic spaces we inhabit is probably one of the least examined.

And it’s into this shadowy but magical area that co-creators and directors Rachel Clive and Kirsty Stansfield lead us, in their new installation and performance piece at the Tramway. The T5 gallery space becomes home to four wooden structures by architect Ewan Imrie, each one like the raw wood frame of a small room; and the air is filled with a soundscape, by Mark Vernon, that captures a powerful range of domestic noise, from footsteps and passing traffic to slamming doors.

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In the installation, each house is inhabited by a screen showing a leg, an arm, a face, filmed in the same space; watching it, leaning on it, lying in it, gazing up at it. In the performance, seven figures appear, performers from the Tramway’s community-based Theatre Arts Group, along with Martin Sloss from Indepen-dance; and for 55 minutes they shift the spaces around into different formations, and move through them alone or together, resting, hugging, dancing and exercising in solitary contemplation, merging into a community, dissolving again.

In the end, the installation perhaps works slightly better than the performance in opening up the theme; it leaves more space for the imagination, where the movement and music sometimes seems over-explicit. Alexander Ridgers’s lighting is beautiful though, piercing in sharp waves of colour through the struts and shadows of the rooms. And there’s an impressive energy and focus in the performance of a company many of whose members have learning or physical difficulties; along with an implicit plea for the connectedness that human beings clearly need, but which is so often denied by the very structure of buildings where the walls are solid, and not, as here, opened up by the light of a fresh awareness.

RATING: ***