Review: Delicate by Extraordinary Bodies, MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton

Review: Delicate by Extraordinary Bodies, MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton

by Nick Mabey.

Delicate, written by Jamie Beddard, is a performative exploration of the fragile nature of the planet right now. Presented by Extraordinary Bodies, a collaboration of show makers that champions diversity, the concept of delicateness is deconstructed through the interwoven stories of four characters, using a range of theatrical forms, including circus, dance and drama.

We learn about our four protagonists and how they each embody a relationship with the idea of being delicate. The action comes in the form of a continuous flow of movement as the characters grapple with their isolation and slowly unite to find community with each other. Personal stories are interspersed with cutaways to clips of environmental disaster, via a globe-shaped screen that hangs high above the stage.

There is innovate use of sign language and captioning via a screen mounted on a flipchart, that is an integral part of the play.  Diversity and inclusion are integral to everything we see and it’s clear the production company are a powerful, authentic voice for those we may otherwise not hear. The congruence between the form and content is perhaps one of the most impressive features of the whole performance.

The messages of the performance are clear but never overplayed. Delicate is about balance; Andy’s acrobatic movements on a pole demonstrate this beautifully. Delicate is being prepared to fully accept we are all flawed; “glorious imperfecto” is the celebratory chant that marks a turning point in the flow. Delicate is about overcoming isolation and creating community and belonging; when Beth shouts “we need you, I can’t do this on my own” she speaks to all of us and for all of us.

We experience these metaphors viscerally as they relate to the characters.  But for me what this play is really about is the delicate state of the planet.  It’s not a plot-driven piece so I don’t think I spoil anything by quoting the final lines of the play; “the world is far more delicate than you and I” There is a sweet sadness to the performance that allows the audience to embrace despair and then join together in hope.  If we can get our balance right, fully acknowledge our flaws and shortcomings, and then unite as one community perhaps it’s not too late?

Delicate is an important reminder for this cynical, old duffer that the performing arts have an important role to play helping us get intimate with the real-world problems we face today. It also tells me we all have a role to play in saving our planet, no matter how flawed and powerless we might think we are.

Tickets for Delicate (14 – 15 November) at MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton, are on sale at or 02380 711811. For further dates on the UK tour, click here.

  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: