She Seeks Out Wool
Reviewed – 27th January 2022
“Sophie Ablett’s script and performance is thoughtful and charming”
If I’m being entirely honest, I didn’t really have high hopes for this show. A ‘one-woman spoken word and large-scale live-knitting’ sounded almost like a satire, and I was just grateful it would only last an hour.
But Sophie Ablett’s script and performance is thoughtful and charming and entirely surprising. Ablett was taught to knit by her mother, who was taught by her mother, and so on. It’s a way of showing love and care, and of keeping something of the family’s history alive. As Ablett stitches the various threads of her family into one garment, she talks us through journeys across Poland, France, Spain, Portugal, Belarus, finally landing in Liverpool. But there’s one face, in an old family photo, which has remained unknown to Sophie. So, she decides to pick up this thread and try to mend the hole left by this unidentified woman.
There are so many Holocaust narratives across so many mediums, sometimes it seems like shock value is necessary in order to get the message across. But Ablett delivers a powerful message, not via shocking details but in the lack thereof; in the silences created by a withholding of official information.
A simple tree made of yarn sits on a trunk of tangled rope in the background, and various coloured balls of yarn hang from the ceiling, ready to be unravelled and woven into an ever-growing shawl. Such a simple design (Beth Colley) could have been catastrophic, but Ablett is a natural storyteller, and as she sways from side to side on the balls of her feet in order to knit this giant family tapestry, she fills the stage with her quiet good nature.
There’s nothing fancy about this production. Ablett, as directed by Mamoru Takano, is barefoot, in black leggings and a jumper. And though the spoken-word script gives an undulating rhythm to the story, Ablett’s delivery is conversational and understated. Nonetheless, it’s a compelling story, made all the more so by its unusual yet endearing presentation.
Reviewed by Miriam Sallon
Photography by Harry Elletson
She Seeks Out Wool
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