Fringe 2008, BATS Theatre
Feb 14-17 | Reviewed by Melody Nixon

STEPHEN TOWNSHEND, who played the beguiling Septimus Hodge in Toi Whakaari’s graduate production of Arcadia last year, is the probing pen, person and performer of The Nominal Space. Townshend explores a stirring and effective range of facial expressions and bodily movements as he jolts through the repeating stories of Nominal Space, drawing on mathematics and mood swings to chart the uncharted – that vague and exciting area between potential futures.

As with many Fringe shows, it is wonderful to see the way Townshend takes control of the space – both nominal and theatrical – and is unashamedly and challengingly obscure. His dark creature character, with twisting wrists and lips, is a beautiful and poignant embodiment of that space – an almost science fiction-like take on what might exist between possible realities. Townshend maintains tension and some emotion – particularly anger – throughout the exploration, but risks leaving viewers confused and a little unable to connect emotionally with what are interesting metaphysical ideas.

The salient aspect of this adventurous show is its running time – thirty minutes. While the sudden ending is neat and appropriately timed, the brief glimpse of anguish and multiple realities the play affords as a whole does not allow much room for viewers to enter the space of the play, the actor, or the script. Rather than stimulate the imagination and inspire insight, as perhaps The Nominal Space intends, it proves too inaccessible to pull this reviewer in.