CARNIVAL To 28 April.


by Manuela Capece and Davide Doro.

Unicorn Theatre (Clore Theatre) 147 Tooley Street SE1 2HZ To 28 April 2013.
11.45am 12, 16-20, 23-27 Apr.
1.45pm 12-14, 16-18, 20, 23-25, 27, 28 Apr.
Runs 45min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7645 0560.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 11 April.

Joyful show that gives back what it’s taken in.
At first it seems they’ve forgotten to unpack the set. Only a big old cardboard box sits on stage. Then it becomes apparent they’ve forgotten to unpack the cast too as the box starts to jiggle about. The momentum builds, it swivels incredibly quickly before limbs start appearing through concealed apertures. Eventually the show’s sole performer appears, an energetic clown-like figure (though not in circus-clown dress), keen to start her show, and determined to bring the audience up to a comparable level of keenness.

There follow a series of separate scenes sparked by children’s imaginative stories, ideas and adventures. There’s the hen cock-a-hoop for people to ruffle her tail-feathers, then the bent-double old woman heaving a big wooden chest with the purposeful determination of a character from Samuel Beckett. If her home isn’t in a cardboard box, her living-room is extracted from the chest – as if she’s being dragging her life with her.

Making things, whether storylines or papier-maché objects, is Italian children’s theatre group Compagnia Rodisio’s way of devising this show, and continuous imagination in staging reflects the ideas contributed by local schoolchildren (Charles Dickens Primary School has a special mention). And it’s a fair bet they have the only children’s show on the road which has a sizeable sequence set to the slow movement of Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony (though with its version of ‘Frere Jaques’ perhaps that’s not inappropriate).

There’s also a fascination with objects, and something of a spectacular culmination as the character climbs to a moon, which suddenly lights-up as the Mahler gains in force. Perhaps it’s part of the sophistication behind the popularity of the clown world that Beckett used it and that Mahler seems apt to accompany it. It’s also the case that all the material, like the characters, is treated with respect within a context of happy energy and joy in creativity – it’s no accident our clown starts with the eager anticipation of a child on some special day.

Sophisticated and joyful, this show respects audience and characters alike in a celebration of all who took part and of the young imagination.

cast and credits not available.

2013-04-12 08:07:00

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