Lockdown has produced some inventive gems from resourceful artists, often operating in physical isolation and on a shoestring, & these five short films by women based in the North from Tmesis & First Take are treasured fragments, quietly & poetically reminding us of our fragility and humanity in the face of individual, personal struggles and uncertainty. All the pieces are performed as physical theatre pieces with character voice-over monologues and delicately composed scores by Meike Holzmann.
Award winning scriptwriter Lizzie Nunnery’s film, It Hurts, deals with the plight of the parent in lockdown, trying to soften the crisis & protect her child from her own needs, frustrations and psychological suffering; a simple mishap, however, brings everything into focus.
Poet and critic Jennifer Lee Tsai has produced the most poetically compelling script with Fallen Star, a hypnotic and beautiful piece about remembering & letting loose the body & spirit’s cultural connection to past ancestors and the liberation this brings. I watched this film twice in order to appreciate the imagery and nuance – and it was even stronger on second viewing.
The film Slag (the author wishes to remain anonymous) is slice of life, gritty and distressing, about a teenage girl’s desire to please and the sexual exploitation that comes from someone in a position of trust. It’s heart-breaking.
Corrie writer Ella Greenhill’s earthy, emotional piece, Neat and Tidy, looks at one woman’s desire for a child, unaware that her Marie Kondo tendencies and need for control and order may cause future problems.
The fifth and final film, by Indian poet, writer and activist Jhilmil Breckenridge, sadly remains a mystery to me as yet as it has yet to be streamed on the Tmesis website, but I am in eager anticipation.
These are all beautifully crafted and very diverse films by talented writers, some of which were even filmed on mobile phones and directed via Zoom, and the performers including Annabel Dowler (Kirsty in The Archers), Louise McNulty (Widnes based TV & theatre actress) and dance artists Jennifer Essex and Pei Tong deliver the stories gracefully and beautifully. The project also sees Tmesis’ Artistic Director, Elinor Randle,making her first comeback to performing since her solo show Wolf Red in 2013.
The films are released weekly from Monday 28th September and can be seen via the Tmesis Theatre website: https://www.tmesistheatre.com/projects/digital-projects/
In a time of global fear and confusion, these films, involving sixteen female creatives, give a sense of personal struggles faced by women and prove to be strangely anchoring and calming. Seek them out.
Reviewer: Tracy Ryan
Reviewed: 5th October 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★