Infinity Pool: A Modern Retelling of Madame Bovary
Unique and engaging storytelling
This article is from 2016.
Very loosely based upon Flaubert's Madame Bovary, writer and performer Bea Roberts offers us an exceptionally acute insight into the fragments of an unravelling life in Infinity Pool.
Captivating for the full hour of the show, Roberts eschews any physical or verbal performance in favour of creating a text-based installation-theatre hybrid. Flitting between two projected screens, numerous laptops, a video player and an overhead projector, Roberts draws us in to the lonely world of Emma, a 46-year-old admin assistant at a plumbing supply company. The most intimate details of digital-era life are laid bare: flirty emails with a customer at work develop into a full-blown passionate e-affair, while texts from Emma's husband regarding a frozen fisherman's pie tells all that there is to be told about the lethargic state of their marriage.
What is most remarkable about this production is Roberts' ability to create well-drawn, empathetic characters through such seemingly simple means. Her boss types in Comic Sans MS and gets hammered on four watermelon Bacardi Breezers, which is enough detail to make serious judgements about a person's character. In these unassuming nuances, Roberts shows us the world around the woman. This imaginative landscape is distinctly articulated too: from the bored-looking office goldfish to the washed-out photos of banal suburbia that denote her drive to and from work, Emma's physical world is deconstructed and conveyed with dexterity.
By using such rich textual and literary means to construct her story, Roberts has remained far more faithful to Flaubert's prose than if she had simply re-enacted it. The result is something rare and extraordinary: exceptional storytelling that is full of theatrical spirit.
Bedlam Theatre, run ended.