Negative Space by Reckless Sleepers (Purcell Room)

You see a white box, panels screwed together, made of plasterboard. It doesn’t have a roof. There are chairs and a ladder.

A cast of six. No music, no dialogue. Coats, flowers, trapdoors, hammers, hacksaws, and a lot of dust and flying debris. Reckless Sleepers, a company formed thirty years ago, have been developing this show for four years, playing with the boundaries of stagecraft and audience expectations of what theatre might be.

Scenes from Negative Space

Negative Space is many things. Slapstick and vaudevillian. Dangerous and dynamic. Witty yet dark. Pointless yet complex. The cast display an impressive level of agility, timing and trust in each other: scaling walls, crawling below and through small spaces, dodging the hammer blows and kicks which decimate the set.

Shows like this have many stories (and let’s face it, falling over and a bit of cartoon violence is always funny), but audiences must find their own meaning in what they see.

Negative Space reminds me of the absurd mimes of Samuel Beckett, the thrill of the circus, and the danger of the building site. With a hint of a love affair, a bit of drama, and quite a few bruised bodies, this certainly delivers something very different to a usual night out.