By Tinuke Craig
Knots- a 1970’s book by psychiatrist R.D Laing has here been turned into a wonderful piece of movement-based theatre that is honest, funny and visually wonderful. The King’s Head Theatre proves an extremely well-suited space for this intimate and personal show. The look is simple with a melancholic feel that marries very successfully with the language of the piece, which is a series of scenes where Laing’s conundrums and hypotheses are performed as speeches, as duologues and as the springboard for dynamic physical work.
Devised by seeitinyourhead and directed by Rebecca Frecknall, Knots is at once fantastically complicated and beautifully simple. The two actors have somehow mastered the tongue-twisting lines and all their minutely different variations and present them with unbelievable ease.
Jack Leonard and Kate Lamb are specific and archetypal as lovers Jack and Jill. Their command of the physical moments of the play is a thing to be marveled at as they make daring physical feats seem not only effortless but necessary, as if there is no other way to move. At one point, Lamb (supported by Leonard) runs along the back wall of the theatre as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, the affect being that it takes you a moment to appreciate what an impressive move that is. The physical language of the piece is it’s best feature, casting a new, visceral light on it’s subject matter. Coupled with the impressive tackling of the language, Knots’s strength comes from it’s ability to take huge ideas, complex language and daring moves, and package them in a way that feels human and domestic. It feels extraordinary, and yet somehow one feels that the story is being told in a way that is familiar and natural.
It’s hard to watch Knots and not connect with it – R.D Laing’s words are harsh and universal truths that delve right to heart of the sad, silly little thoughts that rule our relationships with ourselves and others. It’s not always comfortable watching, but it’s hard to look away. You come out feeling a little exposed and wondering how they could possibly have known all that about you when you thought you hid it so well.
Rebecca Frecknall has created a startling piece that shifts between stark naturalism (of sorts) and dream-like set pieces, keeping the audience gripped throughout.