Aamira And Gad
Cavern – The Vaults
Reviewed – 22nd February 2020
“Content follows form in this beautifully created production”
Bee in my Beanie use puppetry, audience participation and multi-layered narrative to explore how relationships are governed by war in a splendid new work of immersive theatre – Aamira and Gad.
Upon entering the site, audience members are co-opted as new recruits to the Society of Archivists. The society leader – a mole-like puppet (embodied by the wonderful movement of Thomas Delacourt) – soon emerges to lay down the law. We are to observe, report on, but not interfere with the ensuing events.
Message understood, we move further into the space and to a second narrative layer. Now observers – we meet Aamira and Gad – two children on opposing sides of a conflict. Aamira (Demi Wilson-Smith) is a third-generation story teller searching for a key. Gad (Emma Zadow) is a young boy from a long line of soldiers who has found a key. As the two tell their own tales and tussle to understand each another we learn that their lives have been tragically intertwined. The question is – will we, as Junior Archivist, dare to ignore the Arch Archivist, interfere with events, and bring the tale to a different ending?
Each time the two children tell a story their words are brought to life by beautiful movement pieces performed by Delacourt, Alexandra Ewing and Lyla Schillinger. As Movement Director, Ewing has brought ample helpings of the spirited, child-like play that is at the heart of the company’s ethos. The production blends audience participation; layered, storytelling and movement pieces into a complex whole. Making direction as much about the finnicky world of event management as it is about artistic delivery. Co-Directors Tess Agus and Katherine Sturt-Scobie overcome each of these hurdles superbly to deliver a smooth production without ever losing the rich fantasy of the performance. Set consultant Charlotte Cross and Music Director Edward Watchman each bring additional layers of depth to the immersive experience.
Content follows form in this beautifully created production. The company worked with social psychologist, Dr. Smadar Cohen-Chen to understand how people relate to one another whilst living through war. What emerged was importance of hope and narrative in overcoming the barrier imposed by conflict. The use of audience participation to deliver this message is terrific. In weaving the audience into the story, the company help us to understand how we are each responsible for the narratives of the world and that we each have the power to change them.
Reviewed by Euan Vincent
Voices From Home
Old Red Lion Theatre
Reviewed – 12th November 2018
“a varied and engaging night of promising new writing that hosts strong performances across the board”
Featuring some of the best emerging regional writers from the South East, ‘Voices from Home’ is an evening of five short plays curated by Broken Silence Theatre.
First up is ‘Sungrazer’ by Clare Reddaway. Two sisters hold very different views. One, Annika (Eleanor Crosswell) works in a nuclear power plant, unphased by its potential dangers. The other, Inga (Emma Howarth) is watching the sky for a comet with a green tail to pass overhead. Inga is desperately trying to persuade her sister not to continue working there, but to no avail so far. The narrative arch, Annika’s process of realisation, requires more time than is lent to it by this format. An extended version of this play would also allow the nuances to be pushed and explored, both within the story and within the characters who are currently predominantly stereotypical. This is a promising narrative that needs more space to be told in a genuinely complex and in depth way.
‘M** & Women’ by Sydney Stevenson imagines a dystopian future world in which all the men but one have been eliminated. We are meeting two of the guards who stand watch over the last living man. It is an interesting and topical premise, but ultimately is not sufficiently investigated. The complexities are not really found and it all feels a bit obvious. However the relationship between the two soldiers is built and developed in a really lovely way, and their rapport and sense of humour works really well.
Jo Gatford’s ‘Flying Ant Day’ is a moving picture of a struggling mother as she feels herself disappearing to the world. This is a much needed perspective cleverly interwoven with the story of a spider which she is keeping in the airing cupboard as it waits to give birth. The piece is occasionally a bit heavy handed and unfocused, but both performers (Jennifer Oliver and Emmie Spencer) are strong and engaging, carrying this promising piece of writing.
‘The Cromer Special’ is sharp, funny and the most successful piece of the night as a whole. Claudia Campbell as Maggie and Abbi Douetil as Lucy have a natural and genuine rapport onstage that makes for highly convincing performances from both of them. Their comic timing is perfect, and whilst this is, on the surface a comedy piece, this is also a play that is making poignant comments about class, education and youth.
To end the night is a monologue written by Olivia Rosenthall and performed by Isobel Eadie, entitled ‘Home Time’. What begins as a familiar account of the discomfort of the daily evening rush hour, becomes an even less comfortable account of sexual harassment on the tube. Whilst the opening mundanity lasts a little too long to remain engaging, the switch into what the monologue is really about is highly effective and very impactful, and Eadie’s performance is strong and convincing.
Voices From Home is a varied and engaging night of promising new writing that hosts strong performances across the board.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Voices From Home
Old Red Lion Theatre
Previously reviewed at this venue: