One of the greatest joys you can have after seeing a new theatre shows premiere is the walk home. This gives you time to reflect and to think about the show whilst at the same time the walk allows you to remember some of the smaller, subtler, details that bring a wide smile to your face.
Clown and Circus theatre has had a great revival over the last decade. Theatre-makers from all over the world have created shows that utilise the core elements of these two traditions and combined them with the wider scope of theatre. Because of this fusion of traditions it does not always pay off but when it does it can leave you speechless and for Guillem Albá’s CALMA! the bringing together of these two traditions had led him to create a show that is honest and touching.
Using music (Pep Pascual), sound, movement (Ariadna Peya), puppets both physical & shadow (Andreu Martínez), props, audience participation and a mesmerising set design CALMA! is a deep dive into the state of modern life. From a simple start as Albá walks into centre stage singing and playing music he becomes distracted by a phone call and from here he builds up to a series of scenes that provide weight to an unasked question about how we deal with the complexities of modern life.
"As Albá takes his first deep breath of sea air it almost encourages you to want to do the same even though we all know, in this moment, it’s not real.
The show that Albá has created is filled with truths about the pressures placed on society and the rush we seem to be placed in. In each of his set scenes Albá brilliantly demonstrates the problems that society face and at each time the heart, honesty and staggering beauty that he produces leaves an impression. There is a balance created between the farce and humour that is imbedded within Albá’s show and the heartbreaking reality that creates audible silence from the audience.
The manic display that Albá has throughout the show is always complimented by showing someone who simply wants to rest. The ‘Rat Race’ that we are in makes no sense and we never seem to understand why we are always in a rush to work, to earn more, to fight for the next promotion. We tend to ignore the wonder, mystery and life that is all around us and we become trapped and straddled to our mobile phones and viewing life through a tiny screen than by looking up and seeing what is in front of us.
Though there are several recurring themes throughout the show it is perhaps the sound of the waves on a beach and the seagulls overhead that becomes the most profoundly affecting. Each time this is heard there is a look on Albá’s face that shows a real sense of serenity that takes a hold of you it allows you to get the truest understanding of what Albá has created. Nothing causes one to be relaxed or calm quite like the sea.
There is something special about the sea that has a magnetism of sorts that pulls you in. And in Barcelona the sea holds a greater significants but also represents a crossroads between peace, adventure and freedom. As Albá takes his first deep breath of sea air it almost encourages you to want to do the same even though we all know, in this moment, it’s not real.
How is it that the sound of the sea can have this type of power over you? It is instinct and history that creates this universal view of the sea that provides us with the image of peace, of freedom, of finding your own sense of place and of knowing that right now you can take that deep breath and enjoy the moment.
"Much like how lighthouses saved countless ships the lighthouse in CALMA! is now acting as a beacon to save his life."
One of the other recurring theme is a lighthouse. The first time we see this it offers us a sense of memory, that one memory or time of bring fully relaxed and calm. The second time we see the lighthouse the situation is different but its symbolism is no less powerful. Whereas lighthouses are traditionally used to warn ships they are also a beacon to land and in CALMA! Albá uses the lighthouse as a beacon that is pulling him to the sea. Much like how lighthouses saved countless ships the lighthouse in CALMA! is now acting as a beacon to save his life.
And much like the opening scene CALMA! concludes with a simple but affective final scene that doesn’t just capture the beauty of life but will leave audiences taking a deep look inwards asking themselves when was the last time they looked up, unplugged and enjoyed the world around them.