Levitation, usually preceded by the predicate ‘metaphysical’, refers to the presumably supernatural phenomenon of objects or living beings rising into the air, without there being a conclusive scientific explanation for this. Usually the term refers to the levitation of the human body. So much for the online definition. But what does Hannah De Meyer do with it in her Levitations?
For starters, the term ‘theatre solo’ is in every respect much more appropriate here than the word ‘monologue’, since De Meyer holds several trump cards as a performer and uses all of them in this solo. Verbally she is strong, both as a writer and in her delivery on stage, but physical she is also strong, in small details as well as the large. She only needs to tilt her head or extend her arms to make something happen. This sounds simpler than it is. She also uses her eyes – eyes that regard the world with a gaze that is, as they say, ‘indefinable’. When her gaze crosses yours as a viewer, you aren’t sure of its emotional charge: is she looking at you severely and critically, or softly and full of understanding? This touch of mystery is an extra trump in her set of instruments.
The solo titled Levitations literally and figuratively offers all possible room to utilize these theatrical means. Apart from a smoke machine in the corner that quietly puffs out a cloud every now and then, and a small spot of red light against the black backdrop, the only thing on stage is the performer. De Meyer enters the arena with nothing up her sleeves, nothing in her pockets. With her boyish haircut, she looks like a modern-day incarnation of Joan of Arc, ready for battle – albeit wearing a belt bag as a qualifying prop. The belt bag contains another qualifying prop, but we won’t divulge any more than that. Except that Levitations, in all of its determinedly stark simplicity, is sometimes also funny in a sophisticated sort of way.
All very good, but what’s the show about? Well, a whole lot and very little at the same time (‘everything and nothing’ wouldn’t work in this context because of its misleading black-and-whiteness and lack of subtlety). There is a connecting thread of sorts: the search for the Virgin Mary, as De Meyer revealed yesterday in the TAZette. A thin thread, to be sure, but strong enough for a meandering sensual voyage through the hills and dales of De Meyer’s fertile imagination, moving from natural lightness (an exposition on ants and their supposed character traits) to existential darkness (“I want to stop being a person all together”) and back again. Viewers who wish to follow this charming English-speaking guide will be rewarded with a playful, intelligently edited journey in which a new surprise, big or small, awaits beyond every bend or turn in the road. A willingness to go with the flow is essential, for otherwise you will soon lose your way on this idiosyncratic path. But the most wonderful adventures start in our heads, in a state of astonishment. Perhaps this is what De Meyer means with her definition of ‘levitation’: not free-floating, but pure astonishment. Carefree and happy as a child.