Translunar Paradise (Henham Park, Latitude Festival)
Indeed, Translunar Paradise (the title is borrowed from a W B Yeats poem) is a beautifully crafted exploration of grief that tugs at the heartstrings and yet succeeds in being joyous and inspiring at the same time.
Mann, who co-wrote and also directs and performs, sweeps across the stage with fellow performer Deborah Pugh with the fluidity of a fine ballet as we watch William and his wife meet, court, marry, fight, grow old and die. It's a life-cycle that only the hardest of hearts would fail to be moved by.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspect of Translunar Paradise is that the older characterisations are immediate at the moment that the masks are donned and physicality adjusted.
Joining the duo is Kim Heron, who manages to create an entire evocative soundtrack to the piece with accordion and wordless vocal. As William's wife passes away, her last rattling breath is produced by Heron and her instrument; a ticking clock produced with a fingernail and varnished case. Of course, creating such fine detail isn't an easy task in a tent in the middle of a field.
Mann is pragmatic: “Normally in a theatre space you're able to encapsulate the piece allowing the audience to focus on it”, he said before the show and continued: “We've mic-ed up the accordion and so the music will be very clear; as it's a silent piece, there's no need to hear the dialogue”.
And he's correct. Features covered by latex masks as the elderly couple and bare-faced as their younger selves, Mann and Pugh are nothing short of exquisite in their warts-and-all, poignant portrayal of a life-long love affair. A masterclass in theatricality.