Belly of the Whale – 4 Stars


Belly of the Whale

Greenwich & Docklands Festival

Reviewed – 24th June 2018


“Seeing their play reach such a degree of unity is exhilarating”


Every year, Greenwich Fair, as part of Greenwich and Docklands International Festival offers a weekend of free outdoor theatre, circus and dance. This year, theatre company Ockham’s Razor put on a performance that was as much circus as it was theatre and sculpture.

Set outside, next to the Thames and the Cutty Sark, Belly of the Whale is a show that combines acrobatics with an exploration of structure. In a large round metal and wood construct, the three performers, Amanda Homa, Nathan Johnston and Stefano di Renzo meet, clash and harmonise. Sometimes invoking a skateboard ramp, sometimes the ribs of a whale or a sailing ship, the mechanics of the giant see-saw are as versatile and surprising as the performance itself. Over the course of forty minutes the actors assign the construct its own roles, making it partner, tool, antagonist and weapon. In their playful exploration, it is as much a part as the performers themselves. Although sometimes overbearing, at the point where the structure is most restricted, Amanda Homa’s spectacular aerial acrobatics carry a sense of abandonment and loneliness. Just as freedom and constraint are opposed, there is an opposition of control and manipulation, teasing and supporting.

While the show explores the human connection to its environment it is also about interhuman relationships. Everything comes together in the climactic finale when the performers create an equilibrium with each other and the structure as they delve into an ever faster and lighter play, seemingly losing all contact to the ground, taking off, fuelled by the balance they had searched for all this time. Seeing their play reach such a degree of unity is exhilarating and offers a sense of conclusion to the diverse impressions the performance left until then.

Even though each of the performers has an individual solo act, they are most fascinating as a team. Throughout the show they are supported by musician Gabriele Pierro who uses a mix of sounds and live guitar music to set the mood. While his performance is great, he was unfortunately let down by the speakers which were too loud and scratchy in the open space. The fact that the show leaves room for everyone’s own personal interpretation, invoking scenes and ideas without forcing a conclusion or judgement, adds to the theme of playfulness that runs throughout and which leaves the audience with a feeling of airiness.


Reviewed by Laura Thorn

Photography by Mark Dawson


Belly of the Whale

Greenwich & Docklands Festival



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