How do we process grief? What is actually happening when we remember? What do our emotions look like? What do they sound like? In Pollon, the complex inner workings of grieving, living, and remembering are externalised in movement, ritual, and repetition for an experimental interpretation of the solo narrative performance.
Devised and performed by Eliza Scott, this rendition of Pollon with the KXT Open the Door program is the second iteration after development through Shopfront Co-Op’s Artslab residency in early 2021. It’s difficult to discuss what the performance was about without describing how it was done as Scott’s interdisciplinary practise so closely marries the content of this work with its construction. Pollon is about memory but also the process of remembering and the acts tied up in that like grieving, loving, forgetting. To translate these ideas to the stage, Scott used repetitive and abstract movement, simple but evocative lighting, and a truly inventive integration of sound with loops, live-feeds, and sound distortion that was able to transform a single-actor performance into a multi-vocal, dynamic soundscape.
There were strings of narrative returned to throughout the performance that provided scaffolding for the other snippets and half-finished thoughts. One involved trying to recreate the auditory tic of a remembered person; a tiny, inconsequential aspect of their relationship that grew in scale and urgency as Scott again and again failed to perfectly recreate it. These moments of not-quite-complete memory or stories that went nowhere or abrupt changes in tone and medium were the bulk of the narrative as well as the design. In Scott’s flitting between things, they constructed a broken and jumbled production that represented the externalised sensation of memory, particularly as experienced through ageing and forgetting.
In Pollon, Scott demonstrates themself as an expert theatre-maker for their subtle and inventive consideration of detail. One small choice that stood out was their costume change involving putting a suit on over the top of shorts and a t-shirt which, for those with experience with dementia, is an uncomfortably familiar symptom; a kind of disorientation that includes the body and the clothes on it common to the disorder. But Scott is additionally an expert performer for their control of space and pacing that left the audience awe-struck. Scott performed with a tone balanced between playfulness and regret that was captivating and deeply compelling as they moved continually through unexpected scenes.
There is something so rich and satisfying in a production that fully contends with the possibilities of theatre and which equally integrates the many elements of script, performance, and design into the narrative. Pollon stands as an example of how powerful this approach to theatre-making can be.
Pollon is running at Kings Cross Theatre from December 14th – 18th
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