In an age of global mobility, what does it mean to be “home”? It’s a question that’s asked a lot these days - but never quite in the way that Tal Naveh’s chosen for this stylish, evocative show. Her story stars three women, and a big pile of sand: a versatile and malleable medium, which the performers shape and play with throughout their hour on stage. Sometimes they use it as a literal sand-pit, sometimes they shape it like tufts of meringue, yet later, under a colder light, it might be the dust of the tomb. And the whole thing’s done with both wit and elegance - in a performance which hovers somewhere on the boundary between theatre, dance, and performance art.
Though the physical imagery is sometimes abstract, the spoken dialogue tells a clear and specific story. There’s a hint of dying love, memories of childhood loss, a lot of unnecessary apologising - and towards the end, a poignant anecdote, which reveals the cost of living so far from where you grew up. Some of the themes are universal, while others are very specific to Naveh’s own heritage and culture. Addressing Palestinians in particular, she acknowledges her sense of collective guilt, and her child-like hope for a world without borders yet to come.
Accompanying Naveh as she tells this story are Pauline Robin - who speaks only in French - and Da Hye Yang, whose language I can’t even identify, still less understand. It’s a bold artistic gambit, played to great effect in an opening scene where we see three children play: we might not understand the rules of their game, but enjoyment makes sense in any language. That theme of play comes back much later, with some voluntary audience participation built round the language of movement. But it’s hard to come back down from such a highlight - and I must admit that the transition to sadness which followed it didn’t quite carry me along.
The more dance-like sections are both arresting and tantalising, informed by the narrative, yet coy in revealing their own meaning. One scene sees Robin and Yang beating the sand like drums, while Naveh forms wild shapes with her body. Is she angry, frustrated, driven, liberated? You could read any of those emotions, or more; from start to finish, Naveh’s writing and direction contrasts clear and obvious allegory with intriguing, elusive visual dynamism.
If you want to understand everything you see, if you grow impatient with extended scenes, if you’re looking for clear conclusions - then this won’t be the show for you. The man sitting next to me quite obviously hated it, and I did understand his point of view. For me, though, it was a beguiling journey, which transcended its central gimmick to unlock genuine new thoughts and perspectives. There are things here that will resonate - no matter where you call home.