#1 Lähtö (Departure)

Theatre ( Magic, Dance, Video ) Platform Theatre, UAL Central Saint Martins

Audiovisual mirages, moody magical spectacle. A couple navigating their stormy relationship. A wordless performance piece, a living artwork structured as a sequence of loosely connected scenes, of living abstract paintings.

Kalle Nio, a touring magician entertainer, is joined on stage by Vera Selene Tegelman, a contemporary dancer and performer. Backstage, in the shadows, the rest of the production company WHS pull the necessary strings to bring the show alive.

Lähtö appears as a show about two people sharing a strange dream. Like many dreams, it suffers from a weak narrative structure, a certain lack of focus and momentum. In the Q&A following the performance, it is revealed that the show is the fruit of a collaborative effort, and this is evident. Ambitious ideas ranging from Michelangelo Antonioni's objects of emotion to classic stage magic visuals are brought together without much directorial cohesion.

The display is rich and impressive, with postures and blocking bordering almost on elaborate shop window compositions. Frames, drapes, mirrors, screens, and floor-to-ceiling video walls give the show theatrical grandiosity and spectacle, but the show inside feels small in comparison.

We see costume changes, magician's misdirection with bare skin. There is play with timing, and visual tricks of old. Surreality. Despite its origins, the show is missing some magic and smoke and intensity and atmosphere. Instead, we have sketches of a story.

Intriguing textures of the glue scene prove a show highlight. There is enough mystery and physical oddity here to capture attention. There is some method. The dance and movement fit, but ultimately prove forgettable.

Transitions between the disparate scenes are heavy-handed, slightly awkward. No-one steps up center stage to banter "And for my next trick...", as the stage is reconfigured for the sequence to follow. Cerebral video screens serve more as distractions than natural segues. Forms change, but do not evolve smoothly.

The show is strangely serious, with attempts at humour mostly missing their mark. Acting is not strong, bur rather short on confidence, betraying the professed lack of straight theatre background. All the while, the show is trying to be too much at once.

"Magic is in the details", Wio declared in the Q&A, also pondering the nature of magic as an art form, and where you draw the line. Details are important, or as Teller puts it: "Sometimes, magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect." However, there's more to a great show than just the details, and more could have been done here.

Lähtö (Departure) is a collaborative creation, a moody, inward-looking stage art show. Elusive style over substance and magic. See it for the engaging visuals and gentle illusions, but don't look too closely.