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Review: ‘What We Are Made Of’ is an affirmation of the human spirit

Authenticity and heart seem to be the core principles in productions by Massive Theatre Company, and their latest work, What We Are Made Of is no exception. As the title suggests, seven young performers take us on a journey to explore what each of us is made from. It’s a journey into chemistry, metaphysics, culture, and belief.

It began with a single dancer holding a little ball of light who moved slowly and lovingly across the stage while caressing and playing with the ball. Light music accompanied his movements. It was slightly ethereal, almost meditative and I felt a wave of peacefulness wash over me. 

After a few moments, he was joined by others, each also carrying a ball of light. Their movements fluid, energetic, and beautiful. They ran and cavorted in freeform ways. It was lovely. 

There followed a series of vignettes, each performer sharing their thoughts on what they believed was their true essence. These stories were based on their own lives, and it is the reason this production felt so authentic. They included school experiences, family lives, cultural myths, and even scientific explanations of how we are all literally made of stardust. Sprinkled through it were some very innovative dance routines, one, I am sure, was based on anger and conflict and set to some hard-core rock music. Enthralling stuff!

Intriguingly other than the balls of light at the beginning, there were no props and no sets. A series of LED lightbulbs hung from the ceiling provided light but also influenced the mood of each scene by changing colour. It was superbly minimalist, and yet these lights became characters themselves. It was a very clever form of staging that enhanced the action. 

In its sixty minutes, this show covered most of the dilemmas that human beings face, and the questions we ask ourselves. Relationships, grief, and of course, the meaning of life. It was at times sad, often poignant, and sometimes very funny. Best of all, it affirmed the experience of being human without being preachy. There were clear cultural references and affirmations of diversity, but they were done naturally and simply without a strident call for equality, and therefore the messages were more powerful. 

What We Are Made Of is the kind of show that is charming, and reaffirms the human spirit. It is a wonderful antidote to the cynicism of our current age. 

WHAT WE ARE MADE OF

2-6 August 2022

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You can listen to an interview with one of the cast and the director of What We Are Made Of by pressing play below:

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