Theatre Témoin have tackled the socially important yet difficult and emotive subjects of homelessness and mental health. Consulting and engaging with those who have experience of what it means to be homeless, the company has facilitated art and feedback workshops, weaving their research together to produce The Marked, a story of being alone.
Jack is on the streets, his only friends are the pigeons, the angels to those demons of his past, his memories. Masked and often threatening, Jack’s demons visit him, some wrapped in the rubbish that surrounds his everyday, monotonous life. His alcoholic mother is his Protector and his Monster. We travel with Jack between his adult life wracked with pain and his childhood, where he learned to survive, thanks to his feathered friends and a Jedi-like toy that shields him from harm. Used to shying away from whoever comes near, his confused pain is alleviated when he meets fellow homeless folk Sophie and Pete – but life is complex and everything is subject to changes in mood.
Fusing puppetry with masks and physical theatre with a soundtrack of broken bottles and something akin to Boards of Canada, The Marked is powerful and sympathetic, awakening our humanness. A blend of fantasy and terrible truth, Theatre Témoin offers a Magical Realist approach to life. We all dream; we all have ghosts. Fiction is often the way of dealing with painful facts; escapism is crucial to survival. There is a lot of movement in this uplifting production and, coupled with a range of beautiful masks and puppets, anyone could be forgiven for believing there are more than three people on stage. Impressive.
The Marked was a sell out on its opening night at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Theatre and, once word has got around, it probably will be for the remainder of its tour. A heart-warming tale of humanity, The Marked takes you into the world of homelessness, where everyone has her own backstory. Just like you and me.
The Marked shows at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 13th May
Image by Idil Sukan, with thanks