Turfed

Theatre, Drama
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'Turfed'

As we cheer on our bright-shirted teams while they kick a ball about over the next month, it’s easy to forget that though they’ve actually managed to erect a stadium or two, Brazil struggles with providing proper housing for its countless homeless people. But rather than gripe about all the cash being lavished on a four-week festival of sport, in his delicate yet hard-hitting piece for LIFT 2014, Brazilian director Renato Rocha suggests that football’s values can be a force for real change.

‘Turfed’ is an impressionistic look at the state of being homeless based on real experiences – some from its cast members. In a wide, high-ceilinged warehouse the audience stand watching while the 11-strong international cast enact moments: they are troubled, one picks flowers, one plants them, another skips furiously. Lee Curran’s excellent lighting design isolates each person and projects illustrations onto the floor which the cast interact with.

Some of these moments work beautifully. When the actors dance together, they become a fast, intimidating wall of grey, evoking an anonymous mass, oblivious to the struggling individual stuck on the outside. Other parts don’t come off as well: the cast speak poet Polarbear’s script which gets losts somewhat in overly earnest delivery.

There’s no narrative, but the lack of a linear story makes it all the more poignant somehow: it appeals to our imagination and to our senses and aims not to provide answers, but to make us think. In which it certainly succeeds.

The final section, where football comes into the piece, is the best. A huge playing field carpet is dragged across the floor, the stage lamps become floodlights and the cast, delighted, get given a strip with their names on it. Suddenly, as these disparate unhappy bodies come together, we see the power of belonging, of working together and of what being part of a team can achieve.

More on LIFT 2014

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