End of Things (4 stars)

End of Things

credit: Brian Hartley

Spaces and baggage take on new meaning in COW's bizarre, haunting piece

There's no executive relief here, but everything else. Five people (Liz Strange; Robin Hellier, Beth Kovarik, Emily Phillips and Jonathan Peck) dressed in formal wear yet barefoot, experience litanies of tenderness, defiance, and as bodies flail wildly into an unholy heap on the ground, and Peck screams out, 'No!' 'Madness!' and 'No, you can't have me!' there's hysteria, liberation and a kind of orgiastic lunacy. The vignettes constantly shift, almost subtly at first, developing with the insistent ticking of a clock, which becomes a heartbeat tempo, more erratic and finally to musical motifs of Anna Porubcansky's dreamy score.

Seemingly cast adrift with bags and suitcases into a blank terrain, they could be strangers, lovers or family members. They could be anywhere, at any given time. There are no mobile phones, no outside influences, only each other. They vacillate between romantic mirroring and stroking, juddering movement, to fixing a collective gaze on the audience and telling childish jokes where the ending is always death. At times reminiscent of pagan ritual, or absurdist gestures, even the simple act of tea pouring and drinking is stretched to ridiculous extremes. Bark and mud clumps on the floor provide a location for a traumatised Kovarik to roll around, as the lights fade.

Balloons are hauntingly half-lit in gauzy pinks and blues to a silly scat-singing episode, and it's doubtful that the things human beings take for granted will ever feel the same again. It's an oddly lovely, at times maddening, and touching physical theatre performance where endings and beginnings are always uncertain – a bit like human interactions in general.

Reviewed at CCA, Glasgow. Run ended, on tour in Scotland throughout Feb and Mar.

The End of Things

Company of Wolves' fourth original performance is a journey to the heart of letting go.