"What could be better than sleeping under the stars with the person you love?
Living in a homemade Garden of Eden that no one can disturb. But when the mysterious Jacqueline arrives with a secret from the past and starts influencing the neighbours, things may never be quite as blissful again..."
Treat yourself to a magical performance that mixes astronomy with gardening and tantalising night time stories - all accompanied by live music.
Platform 4 has spent the last 9 years collaborating with playwrights and a small dedicated team of artists, blending text, movement and objects with evocative sound and light, in order to devise stunning visua theatre.
Bliss promises to be another theatrical gem from Platform 4.
"Touching and poetic theatre" Total Theatre
Previewed at Salisbury Playhouse October 2006
"Contemporary fairytales have never been more mesmerizing than Winchester based Platform 4's production Bliss, previewed at Salisbury Playhouse last week.
Emma and Louis are two souls washed up on a desert. Their story slowly, very slowly unfolds through balletic movement, haunting music (with more that a similarity to Ry Cooder's soundtrack for Paris - Texas), a few words and night time stories told and re-told over and over again, each finishing the other's story, such is their familiarity and love.
Director Catherine Church's production is incredibly beautiful to watch, while also being inventive, creative and evocative.
Simon Plumridge has created a set based on a Paul Klee painting resembling a commune under the sun, though this commune has just two people.
Catherine Skinner and James Bellorini give humanity to Emma and Louis. You really do care about their characters as they send party invites to paper people their life seems blissful, or is it?
Into this idyll an apple appears growing on the only piece of vegetation that has not completely died, a green, gleaming apple. Enter Jackie, a simply stunning performance by Stevie Thompson as Louis' sister. She is the catalyst, serpent, monster, all rolled into one.
Writer Matthew Wilkie has filled the pay with symbolism with more that a nod to Paradise Lost, Genesis and TS Eliot's poem The Waste Land with its heap of broken images of a set. Chris Talman's sensitive mandolin and guitar playing complemented the production perfectly."
- Anne Morris. Salisbury Journal Oct 19 2006
"A haunting, tantalising piece of work."
- Syd Simons, Programmer, Gillingham School.
"Fascinating and enchanting - so useful and the workshop was so beneficial to our students."
- Barbara Brann, Drama Teacher Bournemouth School for Girls.
"The play both fascinated and confused our students, which is exactly what we hoped. Coming as they do from a background of story as naturalistic and based on simplistic linear narrative it was really inspiring for them to see something that made them think. Once we had discussed the story (which is always their first port of call as they think that 'getting it' is the be all and end all of theatre!!) we were able to discuss the work of the company and the director and consider how stories can be told through a variety of means. In particular they commented on the use of stillness and silence, and the time it took to develop the premise and characters. Which has now become a major theme in our study of texts, as they battle against the instinct to tell the audience everything in the first five minutes. Some of the students who were sat stage left commented that they were unable to see Jacqueline's early entrances and so thought there were sections with 'nothing going on.' Not a problem elsewhere and something I'm sure you are aware of! On a personal note I thought the piece was engaging and well performed. The style of the piece was clearly 'platform 4' and ideas were developed in an interesting way. In particular the dream sequence with the persistent attempt at waking the dreamer and the use of music to both reflect and move action forward were beautifully done. The set was great and the work between the actors really drew me in to the show and the possible permutations of the story and its location. Your use of the intimate space and the way you play with time and character continue to engage and inspire me."
- Jeremy Graves - Drama teacher St Peter's School.
Over the years the company has taken inspiration from visual starting points:
from Joseph Cornell's ready made boxes for Claustrophobia (04), Franz Marc's postcards for Animal Tales (2000) to Portuguese tiles for 3 Greek Myths from a Lisbon laundry (2001). This show started simply from the word BLISS - I just love the sound of it! We then developed the story through research and development with the actors and writer by way of Hansel and Gretal, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden and The Wizard of OZ; but by far the largest influence on the piece was the artist Paul Klee.
Emma and Louis escape into BLISS - but find it hard to run away from their past.. BLISS wouldn't be BLISS if things never changed...
Catherine Church Artistic Director, P4
One lunchtime during the initial 'research and development' week for 'Bliss' I bought a book on the Bauhaus movement, a picture book full of wonderful chairs, lamps, staircases and a few paintings. I cannot remember what I was looking for but what I found was a picture entitled 'Wall Painting from The Temple of Longing Thither'. The artist, who taught at The Bauhaus from 1921 until 1931 was Paul Klee and the painting dates from 1922, just after he had joined The Bauhaus. I had never seen it before but loved everything about it. It relates closely to the ideals of the group he had just joined and concerns human thoughts and aspirations, about 'longing thither', yet tragically remaining rooted to the ground and 'fixed' by laws. Arrows point upward yet shadows with diverse perspectives point downward and it looks like a jumbled community, a commune under the sun, in a desert region, blasted and fixed by that sun. The moon, however, also hangs aloft and provides calm. In the same book is another overview of a small jumbled commune-village, again under a yellow moon. 'View of G' (1927) shows a seemingly closed off, isolated settlement of flat roofed buildings above which flags seem strangely still.
Something about these images chimed exactly with things we had been discussing that morning and, so, when my director asked what design ideas I was toying with my reply was immediate. The pictures were passed around the room and Paul Klee has remained with us ever since. Due to some physical considerations, gravity for example and the need to house three actors and a musician we have had to chop and re-arrange some images - but the essence remains. Copies of paintings have been 'scaled up' to fit our performance space and, somehow, this has always been a rather neat fit. Every time we sought a solution to some scenic problem Klee seemed to be there. There were three possible shapes for the forestage and, again, the key was in another Klee painting (see 'Highway and Byways 1929). He seems to have entered our subconscious. We were discussing an opening image for 'Bliss' and we liked the idea of the girl on the deckchair covered by a parasol. Half an hour later I found the Klee sketch 'Young Woman In A Deck Chair' (1909), sure enough, covered by a parasol. I'd like to think he is with us. I hope he likes it and we humbly dedicate it to the man. I'd like to think he has been with us and is happy with what we have done with his paintings.
Simon Plumridge, Set Designer