In Vena Cava – O’Reilly Theatre – Review
In Vena Cava – Choreograhed and performed by Ella Clarke
On the right hand side of the stage there is an elegant tall grey pylon with a small warning orange light at the top… reminiscent of the red light that perches on chimneys of a great height. However, the principal visual aids in this solo performance are the various and varied images that are projected onto the back of the stage. The first harkens back to early cinema with a sign stating “Carthago delenda est” with a helpful translation of “Carthage must be destroyed”. There then appears footage from the roaring twenties of people having a good time while Clarke keeps up a rhythmic and steady Charleston in front of the images. Each section is introduced by another phrase in Latin duly translated e.g. “Vox nihili: The voice of nothing”. However, what was difficult to discern was what was the connection between the phrase and what was portrayed by the projected images and Clarke’s movements. There was also musical accompaniment provided by Paul G. Smyth which adds a further enigma as to what was being presented.
Continuing with Vox nihili Clarke enters stage right with a train of light white material trailing from the brow of her forehead behind her. She moves slowly, very slowly to the other side of the stage while the white train continues to follow until it stretches across the entire width of the stage. It makes for an arresting image and that is probably of itself sufficient without anything more.
The various scenes have been meticulously created and often create beautiful images. However, it is difficult to detect any connection between the varying scenes depicted. The programme notes states “the Vena Cava, [is] the largest vein in the body that brings deoxygenated blood back to the heart”. However, that of itself does not provide any great assistance. However, this member of the audience would have liked some clue as to the diversity of the content and what linked them however ephemeral or loose such linkage was. Against these comments it was apparent that a great deal of committed, professional work had been invested in making the work.
The above sense of puzzlement was in a sense intensified as the performance was of comparatively short duration lasting just over thirty five minutes. The entire performance was an enigma.