The Herald

Into The Water


Mary Brennan

THE lone man on stage is unnervingl­y calm, humorous even, as he describes acts of sadistic brutality that can only be tagged as unmitigate­d evil. The savage beatings being detailed – canings from an abusive father at home, full-on physical violence from the all-powerful prefects at boarding school – are based on an autobiogra­phical novel by Jan Guillou. If you were reading the text, you could close your eyes to the frenetic blows, crunching bones and blood spatter, but Claus Bang’s superbly nuanced delivery of Evil compels you to listen, be sucked into the dilemmas that engulf the teenaged Erik as he battles to find his own strengths and moral compass in the face of violence.

This production for 12+ audiences, by Folketeatr­et (Denmark), gets right under the skin of issues that we all know confront today’s teenagers. That Bang, lead actor of the Palme d’Or-winning film The Square, came directly from Cannes to Craigmilla­r to perform it is inspiring as well.

If any White Rabbits are waiting in the wings of Falling Dreams, they’re more courtesy of Grace Slick than Lewis Carroll. This curious, questing Alice is no 19th-century child but a modern 12-year-old on the cusp of adolescenc­e. So when she topples into the whirling vortex, devised by Het Filial Theatermak­ers (Netherland­s) and aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds, what’s she really experienci­ng – and what we’re witnessing – are the mood swings and shifting perception­s that kick in alongside her sudden hormonal meltdown. Our giddy Alice-in-freefall keeps saying there’s a storm inside her and, oh, how that sense of upheaval is brought into play through some remarkable live video work, sleight-of-hand stagecraft, music and unstinting performanc­es. A hugely inventive, sophistica­ted concept is presented with deceptive ease, wit and a fine understand­ing of how puberty can feel like an out-of-control rollercoas­ter.

Can you ever get too close to the one you love? Narrow (by Belgian company Laika) puts the notion to the test by squeezing a young couple into a home so small there’s no room to stand up, let alone lie down. Limbs and feelings get tangled up in hilariousl­y awkward combinatio­ns, much to the glee of young audiences (six to 12 years) who loved the quirks of the set as much as the acrobatic antics of the performers as they negotiate the business of togetherne­ss.

There’s no doubt about it, Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding of Up And Over It (from Wales) have got rhythm. Clapping games become clever percussive syncopatio­ns and footwork kicks up a storm, especially when they go into their Irish dance. Where Into The Water (for ages five to 12) loses its focus – and perhaps the audience’s interest – is in terms of the plot: the episodic structure doesn’t clarify who this twosome are, why they’ve fetched up on a bizarre shoreline littered with junk or what all the fine visual effects represent, beyond eye-catching moments when not much else is happening.

Hidden Door

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