Home » London Theatre Reviews » Mythosphere by Inna Dulerayn at Stone Nest | Review

Mythosphere by Inna Dulerayn at Stone Nest | Review

The word ‘immersive’ is overused, but Inna Dulerayn’s Mythosphere is so gorgeously transcendent in its ability to touch every sense with balance and profundity that, in the case of her production, that favoured adjective doesn’t quite go far enough.

Mythosphere
Mythosphere

Sculptural staging, voluptuous costumes, enchanting live singing and other-worldly projections made me feel like I was deliciously contained within a psilocybinic music box as I watched a new world unfold before and spin around me. Whilst many other producers are playing it safe and staid, Dulerayn and her team are taking us on an ambitious trip and executing an array of creative elements with meticulous detail delivered (almost) without flaw. After all, this is a story about the power of women’s magic that explores which of the many doors of perception around us might open to divinity or madness – asking how can we know the difference and on whose authority?

A chorus of white birds (Sam Kipling, Scott Brooksbank, Angle Kwok and Elisa Mammolitti) – wearing costumes by Anna Smirnova that would have given the late Alexander McQueen a run for his money when it comes to both holistic vision and design flourish – serenade us with pitch-perfect baroque era singing that fits both the majesty and subversiveness of the venue’s dual legacy of Welsh chapel and infamous Limelight nightclub of the 80s and 90s. It is beautiful. It is transporting. It gives us a taste of the music of the spheres and hints of what ‘magic’ just might be when we forget tricks and conjurers and mass executions of women with knowledge and skills.

The first act is anchored by a monologue by Girl (Edyta Budnik) as she comes of age and witnesses her mother’s mental health deteriorate. Budnik’s presence is compelling but the script is too long and some of the points laboured. She relays her story in a matter-of-fact tone that suggests resignation and compromise – facts of women’s lives when the power of magic is neutralised as a threat and the magic of joy dies too. The imagistic, surreal tableaux that interject the dialogue take us on a journey and suggest both powerful and joyous magic. These elements remind us of the subtle and substantial ways in which enchantment is both admired, feared and destroyed. I wondered if the script was perhaps developed through improvisation rather than authored because it seemed to meander. With such wild and trippy beauty enveloping us through the sights and sounds of the rest of the play – projections that reminded me of some of the finest video artists’ work (like Bill Viola juxtaposed with Michelangelo at the Royal Academy [2019] or Sam Taylor-Wood’s work at the Hayward [2002]) – the script was both surprisingly literal and long-winded in making its points that would have been better served with brevity. There is only the need to hint at the story and punctuate the feelings when the glorious sights, sounds and even smells of the setting are taking us on a pulchritudinous magic carpet ride.

The second act opens to reveal the story of Granny (Lucienne Deschamps) as she addresses the audience with tales of what her ‘counsellor’ permits and doesn’t. Deschamps has marvellous comic timing and a powerful presence. The Act Two story has a bit more dramatic structure to it than the first one, but the overall piece also needs a good edit. The combination of the tale she tells and the surreal interactions of the Birds singing high-church cantos alongside video projections that featured both layers of dance, as well as pseudo-documentary interjections, gave me a rush of inspiration like I was inhabited by several muses all at once. But then I got tired (much to my own resentment of my human limits). Here too the script was just a little too long. The points were already made so ended up with some of their edges rubbed off – worn down by so much sensation. Every element of this show is art and important and powerful, but it should lose about 15 minutes from each act as not to exhaust its audience. At a gallery, punters could take a break or skip a display, but Mythosphere demands not just to be beheld but to be absorbed. This is a kind of transdermal trip; it will get inside you and carry you away in the best possible way. However, so much stimulation for so long can become relentless; Mythosphere runs to about three hours.

Many magic shows beg to be ‘solved’; as in, ‘how did they do that trick?’ This is not the case with Mythosphere; there are no tricks, but what there is, instead, are the most stunning visual and aural production features you are likely to find on any stage (or indeed in any gallery) in London this year that made me wonder ‘how did they manage to devise and execute this production to the level they have?’. If you are curious about what is possible creatively, this is an experience not to miss. It is visually flawless and masterful. Make sure you’re rested and had a good meal beforehand, however, because it is an intense experience. For inspiration and surprise, do check out this most unusual, powerful, and, dare I say, enchanting performance. There is creative magic to behold.

4 stars

Review by Mary Beer

Inspired by the writings of surrealist Leonora Carrington and fantasy writer Diana Wynne Jones, Mythosphere treads the dark path of the fairy tale forest that lies in the shadows of our imagination and the unexplored depths of our unconscious in this dazzling story of magic – the magic we have lost and the magic that is a forgotten part of our nature.

Told through the experiences of a young girl who loses her magic powers trying to fit in and an old lady who discovers that her delusions are magic powers, this intellectually thrilling production explores nature, the supernatural, psychoanalysis, folklore and feminism.

MYTHOSPHERE
Written and directed by Inna Dulerayn
Motion graphics and animation by Masha Yukhananov
Stage design and props by Jemima Robinson
Costume design by Anna Smirnova
Music and sound objects by Alexey Nadjarov and Iraida Yusupova
Lighting design by Jackie Shemesh
Video/sound design by Maks Demydenko

Monday 20 September to Saturday 09 October 2021
at Stone Nest, 136 Shaftesbury Avenue, London
http://www.stonenest.org/

Author

  • Mary Beer

    Mary graduated with a cum laude degree in Theatre from Columbia University’s Barnard College in New York City. In addition to directing and stage managing several productions off-Broadway, Mary was awarded the Helen Prince Memorial Prize in Dramatic Composition for her play Subway Fare whilst in New York. Relocating to London, Mary has worked in the creative sector, mostly in television broadcast and production, since 1998. Her creative and strategic abilities in TV promotion, marketing and design have been recognised with over 20 industry awards including several Global Promax Golds. She is a founder member of multiple creative industry and arts organisations and has frequently served as an advisor to the Edinburgh International TV Festival.

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