Katie Pollock’s Blue Italian & Nil by Sea made for an experimental investigation into displacement and escapism. Pollock’s older work Blue Italian opened the performance and made use of minimalist and expressive set design. The space was littered with black and yellow street blockades with flashing lights attached. This gave an immediate sense of seclusion and fragmentation which worked well inside the expansive room.
Sarah Meacham and Alex Malone shared the role of a young woman in search of her destiny exploring both her childhood and adulthood respectively. Meacham embodied the infant role well, and with vigour. Malone demonstrated an older self who was running from the tradition and domesticity that her grandmother represented. Through the use of blue and white china plates, the piece illustrated that for some the plate is enough, and for others the plate is obsolete. Even though she loved her grandmother as a child, as an adult she journeys towards a real sense of belonging. Pollock said after the show that this was indicative of her own experiences as a young adult on her travels. Malone’s journey of self discovery was blockaded by both generational and racial barriers which lead nicely into the second half of the play.
Nil by Sea illustrated the true story of Jose Matada’s desperate plight to a new life. Sitting in the stowaway of a plane, he collapses and falls out of the plane and onto a suburban street in west London. Pollock’s writing demonstrates the judgment and cruelty amongst the neighbourhood who gossip about the tragedy. Some argue he was greedy to illegally migrate, that he should have waited in line just as one would wait in line at the supermarket. Nat Jobe’s performance as Jose, which expressed his want for new fertile land, was evocative and brimming with hope.
Although the vocals were strong, writing was occasionally too fragmented and abstract. At times, Pollock’s writing explained feelings that the character’s held in their subconscious, feelings that perhaps the characters should not have been aware of themselves, but rather made implicit in their language. Equally, the transition between these two works was unclear, and only made discernible by the actors’ ability to quickly transition into the new characters for Nil by Sea. Brave and experimental, the writing and choreography was ambitious for the allotted time, and occasionally self-conscious