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Total Theatre

Article by Dorothy Max Prior, reviewing the premiere of Quartet at the Nightingale Theatre, Brighton, November 2006


“Quartet hinges on a lovely idea and like many good ideas it is stunningly simple – a deconstruction of a performance into its component elements: movement, objects, music, words. Each is performed alone, one after the other, the audience imagining the complete performance from the placing together in memory of its four parts. The inspiration is an accident that took place in Milan in 1913, when dancer Anna Akhmatova came onto the stage and the conductor (allegedly because he was so entranced by her) forgot to start the music. So she dances the piece in silence, but when she leaves the stage the music starts…

Corrieri’s solo performance has just the right balance of humour and serious intent. Each scene is introduced by the artist. The movement section is elegantly surreal – it is only later that we understand some of the odder movement motifs, as shirts, mic stands, and glasses of water come into their own. The ‘objects’ section is an odd mix of animation and pure clown, as the performer plays with the audience’s knowledge that of course the objects cannot really take on a life of their own, so must be helped. His ‘I’m here but not here’ facial expression as he propels an object through the space is a delight to behold. The music section is enchanting: Corrieri stands still and listens, and we listen, and the stillness on stage is heart-rending. The spoken text section works least well for me – I find myself wondering why his mouth wasn’t moving in the movement section, then worrying that I’m taking it all too literally. Despite this one small reservation, I felt that I’d witnessed an extraordinary performance. Just twenty minutes long, but listen: small is beautiful.”