An effective and affecting story about mother-daughter relationships.

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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121329 original
Published 09 Aug 2011

Agnes rushes home to Colombia following the death of her mother. It has been a long time since her last visit, and a long time since she and her mother have seen eye-to-eye. A series of slow, controlled somersaults evoke the tumultuous physical and emotional journey the young woman is undertaking – the first of several moments in Emergence where movement is used as an effective and affecting tool for storytelling.

The show flips between past and present, from Agnes' happy childhood to the moment her mother sends her away to school in England, to the painful days after her return to Bogota. The company captures beautifully the emotional tug of war of mother-daughter relationships and the pain of separation. Plaintive songs—performed by the narrator, the undertaker helping to arrange Agnes' mother's funeral—punctuate and underscore the narrative. Where the company's excessive fondness for the clichéd motifs of physical theatre sometimes distract from the impact of what the show is trying to achieve, the music is flawlessly integrated throughout. 

The undertaker has her own family sadnesses to share. The show's distinct stories brush up against each other but never fully connect beyond the formal funereal dealings Agnes has with this sweet, lonely woman. We all have our troubles, Emergence seems to say: no one is quite as happy as they should be.