by Lotta Geffenblad adapted by Peter Engkvist.
Unicorn Theatre (Weston Theatre) 147 Tooley Street SE1 2HZ To 23 June 2013.
Runs 35min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 June.
Sticks and stones that will delight young ones.
For years, Scandinavia has been producing mature, intelligent children’s theatre, attuned to young people’s ways of understanding the world around them. Swedish author and animator Lotta Geffenblad recently won best early childhood film prize with Aston’s Presents; in Astons Stenar from six years earlier she provided the basis for a gentle, lyrical play. In Teater Pero’s simple, detailed production it is a delight, built on repeated routines without ever seeming repetitive, economical and clear in its use of movement and language (British performances during this intercontinental tour are in English).
Aston is at the point where a very young person has control over their physical being and is building a sense of individuality. Adults clearly know he will follow instructions, but not how much he’ll add to them.
So when Aston and mother go shopping, steps and swaying shopping-bags creating a sharply stylised image of walking in the open-air, Aston may start going in his own direction, but soon follows mother. A chance encounter with a stone starts his collection; as he craftily shoves it in his mother’s shopping-bag to be brought home, there’s a sense both of his trust in mother and his sense of independence as a separate individual taking control of his surroundings.
The routine in daily life, and the difference between eager child and settled grandfather, become apparent when Aston needs to ask the same question four times before grandad realises he needs to move an earflap on his hat to hear him. Most significantly there’s the start of the sense of renunciation, as Aston takes his stone collection to be left in its natural habitat on the beach.
The first sacrifice of Aston’s life, it’s countered by a comic end as we see him start the next collection, without the adults noticing, with a twig concealed behind his back. Magnus Lundblad plays with a controlled simplicity that lets audience imaginations graft their experiences onto Aston, while Baura L Magnúsdóttir as his mother and Ulf Eriksson (who also provides supportive musical moments) as the oldest, family member, happy to sit or join in, are also spot-on.
Cast: Ulf Eriksson, Baura L Magnúsdóttir, Magnus Lundblad.
Director: Peter Engkvist.
Music: Ulf Eriksson.
Costume: Lotta L Danfors.