COOKING GHOSTS To 17 November.
devised by Kristin Fredricksson Georgina Roberts Seiriol Davies and Helen Mugridge additional devising by Fionn Gill and Daniel Copeland.
Camden People’s Theatre 58-60 Hampstead Road NW1 2PY To 17 November 2012.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 08444 77 1000.
Review: Francis Grin 6 November.
Puppetry, dance and childhood trauma.
I remember staging a suicide scene in my ninth grade drama class. The event involved a lot of crying, some dark monologues and yes, ketchup. Lots of it. Hence, today I can’t help but feel apprehensive when it comes to suicide-themed plays. Still, I’m pleasantly surprised with Beady Eye Theatre’s production of Cooking Ghosts – the company won both the Total Theatre Award and Arches Brick award in 2009.
Devised and performed by Kristin Fredicksson, Georgina Roberts, Seiriol Davies and Helen Mugridge, three siblings explore their mother’s suicide with one main intention: to get back into ‘the garden’, a place of innocence and childhood bliss. The question remains, will this event forever plague their memories, or can they still recapture a little sense of joy?
To say that this production is ‘theatrical’ would be an understatement as the company uses audience interaction, mask, puppetry, song, dance and video installation to explore the psychological world of these characters. Most admirable is the creative use of video installation, marked by the play’s effective opening, as the siblings rummage through an old cardboard box while simultaneously filming the inside of the box. The film is then projected onto a large screen as we see old toys and books explored in depth. The scene is eerie, primal and sets us up for what we are about to experience – a visual quest for a lost past.
Still, sometimes the production’s overly-theatrical nature weakens the authenticity of the main event. Through all the masks, puppets and dance, we almost lose the humanity of the mother, who at times comes across as a staged portrait of insanity, rather than a real person.
Regardless, the production redeems its authenticity in one of the final scenes as the actors recite letters which recall their mother’s death in a simple and bare way. They describe the way she liked a pink dress because it reminded her of a special film, or how she wore white in her coffin. Finally, this woman becomes real again, and in this moment the performance is charged with emotion. All in all, a daring production by up-and-coming Beady Eye Theatre.
Performers: Kristin Fredricksson, Georgina Roberts, Seiriol Davies.
Sound: Elena Pena.
Video/Puppets: Kristin Fredricksson and the company.
Photography: Maria Andrews, Alex Brenner.