Review: Borges and I by Idle Motion

This is the second time I have seen Borges and I, but it definitely bears seeing twice! The beauty and fluidity of the physical language perfectly enhances the interwoven stories of Spanish poet and writer Jorge Luis Borges, told through the eyes of Alice, and her book-group friend, Sophie, who finds romance just as tragedy strikes.

The parallels of the two lives, both blighted by the onset of blindness are told through narrative and metaphor, and every visual image is created with books. The tiger, which Borges admired above all other animals, and which features again in Sophie’s favourite childhood book, is illustrated with flicking pages. Books become butterflies, cityscapes, aeroplanes and dominoes; pages flutter down like rain, and we literally see the images contained within the words and feel the power of literature in a way that no other play has ever achieved.

It is quite simply beautiful, as well as touching, funny, tragic and uplifting. The cast of six includes Idle Motion Artistic Directors: Grace Chapman, as the uptight shrewish Hilary, Kate Stanley as Alice, desperate to follow her idol into librarianship, Sophie Cullen as the tragic heroine, and Ellie Simpson as Gabby; they are joined by Julian Spooner (better known as a founder of the excellent Rhum & Clay) as Borges and Joel Gatehouse as Nick, the man who captures Sophie’s heart and carries her through her ordeal. But, as well as performing their individual characters, they blend perfectly as an ensemble, working in complete synchronicity, creating images which dance to the haunting score.

Borges and I is physical, visual and narrative storytelling perfection and easily gets five stars from me. It’s been in Idle Motion‘s repertoire for several years, and they have taken it all over the world so, if you still haven’t seen it, you may still get your chance. If you do, snap it up! You won’t get a better evening out at the theatre than this.

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