Reviewed – 2nd July 2018
“Warm, likeable and genuine, their performances are playful, tender and deeply moving”
Harris is a woodcutter who lives a solitary but contented life in his cabin in the woods when his usual routine is disrupted by nature enthusiast, Pepper, knocking at his door. So begins a beautiful romance, but when Harris finds a book on “Husbanding for Dummies” and Pepper finds one on “Wife-ing for Dummies”, they do their best to fulfill the traditional roles of what a husband and wife ought to be, with grave consequences. This is a truly beautiful piece of theatre that investigates the impact of prescribed gender roles of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ on a relationship, through clowning, mime and physical theatre.
‘Knock, Knock’ is the creation of Hot Coals Theatre, a company established in 2012 who focus on creating work that is highly visual and D/deaf and hearing inclusive. Its members are Jo Sargeant, who plays Harris, and Clare-Louise English, who plays Pepper. Warm, likeable and genuine, their performances are playful, tender and deeply moving.
My only qualm with the production is that the opening segment is overly long making for a slow start. This is not helped by the looping soundtrack that accompanies this opening and makes it feel more repetitive than it perhaps is. A greater focus on creating a more varied score in this section may well alleviate this problem all together.
The design is impeccable. The stage is divided in two, a magical forest on one side, full of trees laced with fairy lights, the warmth of Harris’ living room on the other. Jacob Gowler’s lighting design is brilliant, transferring us between spaces with ease. It is used to particularly moving effect towards the end of the piece, when Harris waits interminably through the seasons.
This is an emotionally engaging and beautifully presented story that discusses the negative impact of limiting gender roles in an accessible and affecting way.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by Chris Daw
RADA Festival – GBS Theatre
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