Perle (4 stars)

This article is from 2012


Gem of a show exploring grief and loss

Perle shows a life on pause. A man sits in front of a television, feeding it one VHS tape after another. At first he seems like any other screen-junkie, swapping the big wide world for the small screen, but gradually an unshakeable grief reveals itself. Square-eyes, it seems, don’t shed so many tears.

Based on an anonymous 14th century poem, Dancing Brick’s live-cartoon is a duet between man and machine. Thomas Eccleshare remains silent, too brittle to speak. His words appear in onscreen speech bubbles. Elsewhere, he reaches behind to pick up a line-drawn phone in Serge Seidlitz’s animation or make himself a 2D sandwich. Still hungry afterwards, he simply rewinds the tape with an impish smile.

Perle won’t show you grief in a new light; in fact, it takes a superbly delicate, upbeat performance from Eccleshare to stave off sentimentality. Instead, it’s a perfectly-formed miniature, slight but exquisite. The metaphor of television unlocks the original: home-movies stand in for memories and the world fades to black and white. In short, Perle’s a gem.

Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 26 Aug, 1.45, £9–£10 (£8–£9).


  • 4 stars

With one performer and his television, Perle is a live cartoon based on one of the oldest poems in the English language. Told through a bold mixture of illustration and live action, it is a poignant, comic and original performance about obsession and loss. A collaboration between Dancing Brick (21:13, Heap and Pebble)…

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