In an extremely warm theatre, I watched poet and writer Jan Noble, create imagery with verse, a necromancer of inventive poetic speech, searingly powerful, and infinitely watchable.
Body 115 is a homage to Dante’s Divine Comedy, delving into the underworld with its decay and death. Jan Noble’s one-man show sees Body 115, who is one of the long unidentified victims of the King’s Cross fire in 1987, the 31st victim, who lies in the earth, has memories of fire, and an horrific death. Following the dramatic nature of The Divine Comedy, body 115 becomes Virgil, who guided Dante, and represents human reason. For those unaware of Dante’s Divine Comedy, it is a poem written by Dante Alighieri, during the 14th century, which is divided into three parts, the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, and discusses the state of the soul after death and presents an image of divine justice meted out as due punishment or reward.
Throughout this piece we see the modern world peeping in, there are references to selfies and connecting online, which brings it more up to date than the 1987 King’s Cross fire. The piece does not stay situated in London, it moves to Paris and Milan. We hear illusions to poets Keats, Joyce, Marlowe, and the songs of Chaucer.
The piece feels like a classic piece of poetry, dramatic and intense in its nature, and Noble’s performance adds an extra layer to this powerful piece. I defy anyone to leave the theatre unimpressed, Noble is visual, and commands the stage, but the victory comes from his writing and his adaptation of a well-known poem. To bring the poem to the stage, Body 115 was adapted by Justin Butcher, and it works so well as a performed poem. The intensity of the words spoken, create images in your own imagination, the poet has painted a picture, dramatic in nature, using a verbal paintbrush, and it feels like this visionary painting is worthy of the Louvre.
Go along to The Hope Theatre to see Body 115 – it’s a poetic masterpiece! To book tickets go to https://camdenfringe.com/events/body-115/. The play runs until the 26th August 2023.
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 22nd August 2023
North West End UK Rating: