by The Plasticene Men .
Tour to 9 April 2011.
Runs 1hr No interval.
Review: Martin Franks 6 April at The Junction Cambridge.
Beautiful, well performed if sometimes a little lost.
Keepers is a beautiful, lyrical piece of physical theatre, almost dance at times, highly professional in its neat and poetic performance, simply staged with just a trapdoor, a ladder and an occasionally flashing light (symbolising the lighthouse), with simple grey costuming and make-up which is artistic and poignant. All very much feels well-crafted and part of a well-honed whole.
Martin Bonger and Fionn Gill perform empathetically and create a great dramatic partnership. Martin Bonger plays intensely the obsessive older keeper Thomas Howell, writing his memoirs and waxing lyrical about the noble role of the Lighthouse on the Smalls – a collection of rocks off the Pembrokeshire coast and the setting for the whole play.
And Fionn Gill plays Thomas Griffith, the flighty younger man, constantly diverted by his obsession with ornithology and the dangerous drama of the waves and the wind. One of the lovely things about this piece is the central role of the third performer Lawrence Williams, the musician who interplays his sound effects and multiple instruments as part of a finely-tuned machine.
And that’s as far as I can get with this play. Yet again I wanted wonderful physical theatre techniques to mean more. Yes they created fabulous atmosphere but so does dance and this is theatre. There are too many occasions when an audience cannot be sure what’s going on – the points when the younger generation in the audience started to fidget (whilst we adults respectfully just drifted away).
The tightness of the direction and performances is not matched by a precision of narration. So whilst the professionalism and craft here are tremendous, yet again in devised physical theatre, theatrical effect seems to take over from dramatic form.
Thomas Howell: Martin Bonger.
Thomas Griffith: Fionn Gill.
Musician: Lawrence Williams.
Director: Simon Day.
Designer: Samantha Keeble.
Lighting: Pablo Fernandez Baz.