I didn’t know what to expect on my way to ‘Invisible Atom’ – reading the blurb I had seen references to math-sy things and sort of gave up on understanding the play, especially as I have dyscalculia! However, I have never before been as wrong in my pre-play impressions and found I understood the play, probably a little too well.
The play was presented under the banner of ‘2b Theatre’ a, what might be described as, quirky theatre company from Nova Scotia – not of Elizabeth Bishop fame I think and written by Anthony Black, the sole actor in the piece.
Walking into the theatre space was quite a surprise. A lot of the seats were taped up with signs indicating you shouldn’t sit here and once we had become settled, the attendant announced if we left we couldn’t be left back in due to the delicate nature of the lights in the piece. In my naivety and due to my faniciful personality I was expecting lasers at this stage!
But I was in for something far more impressive and a far greater testament to the creative spirit.
Above you have Black’s opening three minutes and a taste of the ingenious use of lighting to create refreshing metaphors. In fact the entire piece features innovation that will make your mind do a double take!
As you can see Black uses his hand to portray Atom’s walk to the edge and through the decision making process that happens there. It open’s with a narrator who becomes the main character – which, just now, strikes me as interesting because Atom will go on to narrate the other characters vital to the story just as he is narrating himself now. The use of hands in itself is quite endearing, playful, childish and almost like puppetry. There is something quite intimate about it too – after all, holding hands is one of the most tender and intimate displays of affection there are.
I would think that creating this air of intimacy is important to “Invisible Atom” as, for me, the piece was powerful and moving because Atom’s character became real for me and I identified with him on a very real, personal level. I’ve only ever felt the same way about one other fictional character – Edna Pontellier from Chopin’s “The Awakening”. This is probably because we are very clearly brought into Atom’s thoughts and perspective. He is the only character on stage and the portrayal of the other characters and even his physical surroundings are filtered through him.
This connection with the character is also strengthened by the innovative and affecting ways Black describes how Atom is feeling. One example is the use of a book that is dropped, mirroring Atom’s workplace as it is bombed. The book seemingly hits the ground without
making a sound. This replicates the feeling a person has as they miss the last step in the stairs – the mind numbing lurch of your heart. It is difficult not to empathise when you, yourself have shared the experience.
The ending, while I won’t give it away, was harrowing for me. I had to go home and think it over, try and absorb it, try and cope with the fact that it happened. (I may have some issues separating fiction and reality 😛 ) I am very grateful to have seen this piece – I’m certain it will act as a benchmark for any creative works I participate in.
“Invisible Atom” is a piece that uses the theatrical medium to it’s full potential. The stage and the theatre have been thoroughly considered and woven into the essence of the staging. It is not just a script that has been written for the sake of writing a play it is a piece that could not have happened on TV or the cinema screen or anywhere else but on the stage and for me that makes “Invisible Atom” a very important piece.
I had the good fortune to meet Anthony Black in person. Unfortunately, me being me, I failed to be able to hold a proper conversation! The plug in my mind having been pulled and draining me of the ability to articulate the little intelligence I posses. He was lovely though and tolerated me very good naturedly – especially as I kept popping up randomly through out the day and the next!
It is often I try and justify the importance of theatre – it’s significance as a medium in a world of cinema and TV and it is thanks to pieces like “Invisible Atom” that give me the confidence to believe in theatre’s place in our lives.