Landscape II, Lakeside, Colchester

by Emily Townsend

Melanie Wilson’s Landscape II is a striking piece of contemporary theatre: a fusion of drama and graphic arts that catapults the work into an entirely new genre. As an experienced sound artist, Wilson makes impressive use of multimedia and digital effects, combining these with an evocative script. Through a blur of letters, photographs and belongings, she carefully cements the connection between three historically distant women. An eerie soundtrack builds suspense, as secret affairs and menacing events that will transform fragile female lives are slowly exposed. Wilson embodies their endurance of distress, integrity and liberation via an abstract and digital exploration of fear.

The convoluted composition allows Landscape II to examine such delicate concerns as madness, seclusion and claustrophobia. Setting is crucial to the work: the beautiful natural “landscape” seen on film represents each character’s safety mechanism. The script is similar in this way to Charlotte Perkins-Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper – within which the central protagonist uses a simple room as a metaphor for her isolation from society.

This 90-minute monologue is in many respects compelling. Wilson’s intricate and peculiar way of speaking builds audience perspective and exemplifies the poignancy of the women’s intense connection. Wilson is compelling in her performance, equivocal and charismatic. The juxtaposition of historic relevance with digital ability and a new dramatic style ensures that Landscape II is a brilliantly current piece of theatre that both stuns and startles its spectators.

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