Review: Shooting With Light, New Diorama

“You don’t have to worry about taking the perfect picture”

There’s much to enjoy about Idle Motion’s Shooting with Light, currently selling out night after night at the New Diorama ahead of a UK tour, not least in their exploration of the life and work of photojournalist Gerda Taro. A devised work, it blends its text with striking use of movement, multimedia projections and innovative design, to create an impassioned, time-jumping romance slash mystery that has some truly beguiling moments.

Fleeing the rising anti-Semitism of the 1930s, German Gerta Pohorylle and Hungarian Andre Friedmann met in a Parisian café and quickly bonding over a mutual love for each other and photography, reinvented themselves as the First Couple of photojournalism – Gerda Taro and Robert Capa. Initially just acting his agent, Taro’s own love for the lens saw her develop her own path, becoming the first female photojournalist to cover a war from the front line. And to die whilst doing so.

Idle Motion leave us in no doubt as to the depth of feeling Taro had both for her partner and for her work. Arresting sequences see her connect gorgeously with her lover under the red light of the darkroom or the twinkling night sky, and her determination to capture images of a burned out village in the Spanish Civil War is hauntingly effective. When the movement has a definitive purpose as it does here, it elevates the production exquisitely and Sophie Cullen and Tom Radford really shine.

There’s a touch more of it than is strictly necessary though, a few moments of the physical theatre do feel over-indulgent even if atmospheric. And there’s tantalisingly little of the wider world of photojournalism, the importance of which becomes apparent in the second story strand woven in here as we follow Capa’s brother’s search for a suitcase of missing negatives that will complete a major retrospective of his work, the different time zones cleaving closer together as more and more detail emerges and the whole production comes into beautiful focus.

Running time: 80 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 11th April, then touring to The Lowry, Salford; The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal; The North Wall, Oxford; Pocklington Arts Centre; Gulbenkian, Canterbury; Chipping Norton Theatre; and Greenwich Theatre. And then China too!

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