Reviews West End & Central Published 20 January 2016

Expiry Date

Barbican Pit ⋄ 19th - 23rd January 2016

“And the dominoes fall”: Maddy Costa’s poetic response to part of London International Mime Festival 2016.

Maddy Costa
Credit: Sophie Glossin

Credit: Sophie Glossin

An old man is dy- no, not that. Not yet.

An old man sits in an ageing armchair. An old man sits with a pot of tea. Life reduced to

Dominoes! Is it possible for the human mind to see a neat line of dominoes and not want them to fall?

The human mind with its synapses and its

An old man sits with a pot of tea and somewhere in the shadows of his memory his younger self sits

And the woman splits, her head mysteriously dividing into two.

And the dominoes fall: crack! Racing around the stage like so many electrical sparks chasing one another in the brain. The dominoes fall and the marbles run and

Pay attention: you are never too old to stop playing. If Anna Nilsson – who co-directed Expiry Date – is 35 then her father – who co-designed its intricate machines with her, its hourglass and pendulums and surreal sculptures built from junk – must be at the very least in his 50s, and if he can still play with a marble run then

The dominoes crack. Memory snaps.

Her body contorts. Every muscle twitching and rippling, every joint distorting, the body become plastic, elastic, the body as mesmerising as a hallucinated dagger, glittering as it twists in the light. (“During the creation of the show my mother became very ill with cancer and I based my own character on that illness,” she says in her director’s note, but I didn’t understand that while watching and I don’t think it matters.) A body young and lithe and endlessly transforming while he stands with his hand in the sands of time.

Not yet. We don’t know really know that he’s dying yet.

An old man stands, haggard and worn, and his younger self emerges from the shadows, the two bodies weaving until it’s hard to tell whose limbs are whose.

And she sings of love, parlez-moi d’amour, l’amour est enfant de boheme, but in her wedding dress she reaches back so far that the words choke in her throat.

What kind of a marriage emerges from these memories? A violent one, it seems, competitive, him refusing to give an inch, her attempting to meet his aggression with her own but invariably overpowered. (But then, if she’s cancer, maybe that’s what he’s fighting. Illness. Time. No wonder he’s so energised, cheering from the sidelines.)

The synapses crack in a babble of languages, frenetic and jumbled, memories collapsing

And she sings of love. Parlez-moi de boheme. Her body contorts. Nothing makes sense. Only this:

An old man is dy- but wait. Not yet. The pendulum still swings. A sequence of perfectly logical parabolas, a life traced in its movements: this is the only thing that could have happened here, and here, and

A heartbeat, slowing. The clank of a chime. Time revolving, heavy, relentless.

An old man sits in an ageing armchair. Shades of former selves pull at his attention; he pushes them away. The flow of memory, jumbled, distorted. The crackle of synapses, a babble of movement.

Pay attention: nothing lasts. I’m trying to hold on to each thing as it happened, because this show was beautiful, striking and strange, and I want it to haunt me until the day that I

The sands have stopped spilling. The water has stopped trickling. The dominoes are still.

A heartbeat, silenced.

An old man di-

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Maddy Costa

Maddy Costa writes about theatre and music, as much as possible at the same time. Preferably with a recipe included. An occasional contributor to the Guardian, she found one blog (Deliq) wasn't enough, so now co-hosts four. She is critical writer, or critic in residence, or embedded critic, with Chris Goode & Company; through her work with them, and with Dialogue, the organisation she co-founded with Jake Orr, she is attempting to rethink the relationship between people who make, watch and write about theatre. At least once a week she decides she should stop writing about theatre and do something more useful instead.

Expiry Date Show Info


Directed by Sara Lemaire and Anna Nilsson

Choreography by Hun-Mok Jung

Cast includes Jef Stevens, Laura Laboureur, Thomas Hoeltzel, Anna Nilsson

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