by Keith Saha.

20 Stories High Tour to 9 November 2013.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 12 October at Curve, Leicester.

Looked-after child looks out for herself and sister.
Young people who become lost within society are a concern for theatre company 20 Stories High. In this piece for 13+ they show the internal isolation of ‘looked-after children’, for whom the local authority provides home and support. Young Harmony’s struck lucky, being adopted by a same sex couple

Big sister Melody’s less lucky and as short-term stays succeed each other – failing at least in part because she’s determined they will – she builds the restless defiance expressed in her opening rap.

But she’s intelligent and determined, studying for GCSEs as Rizla, the amiable, well-intentioned sucker for a local drugs baronet, asks her out. Her only comfort is an animal-head backpack she calls Mojo, treating it as friend and comforter. Mojo is really little sister Harmony’s, so helps link Melody to her.

Melody’s problems grow through the vibrant-coloured surrounds of the first act, a fragmented fairground world that distracts her, while ineffectual authority is unable to give any real help. So she takes off with Rizla, and Nigerian Blessing, whose visit to her aunt hasn’t worked-out. There’s mutual hostility between the two girls, until Melody allows her along.

Designers Kate Unwin and Mark Wigan replace the first act’s garish fragmentation with a folktale forest. Here be monsters, created in Melody’s head as a Grimm life replaces a merely grim one. Mojo, already able to grow and become less affable, is discarded by Melody and returns in startling attack mode, threatening her and Harmony.

For by this time she’s met her little sister, who rejects Melody and Mojo. Finally, with fear and fantasy threatening them both, salvation comes rather suddenly and possibilities open-up. Such final-scene solutions can seem contrived, but this one is a credible end to the internal path Melody’s followed, learning to do what’s best for her sister, not being possessive, and finally able to accept friendship.

Remmie Milner charts this, from Melody’s defiance through her learning-curve among the trees and mountains, with Darren Kuppan energetically ultimately helpful as Rizia, and an expressive puppet Harmony. Beatboxer Hobbit and Hannah Marshall, variously sharp and smooth on ’cello, contribute considerably to events.

Melody: Remmie Milner.
Rizla: Darren Kuppan.
Puppeteer/Wet Jeff: Samuel Dutton.
Puppeteer/Jackie: Zoë Hunter.
Beatboxer: Hobbit.
’Cellist: Hannah Marshall.

Director: Keith Saha.
Designer: Kate Unwin.
Visual artist: Mark Wigan.
Lighting: Douglas Kuhrt.
Sound: Dan Steele.
Musical Director: Tayo Akinbode
Puppetry consultant: Sue Buckmaster..
Dramaturg: Philip Osment.
Associate director: Julia Samuels.
Choreographer: Kwesi Johnson.

16-17 Oct Wed 7.30pm; Thu 1.30pm Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield 01484 430528
4-5 Nov Mon 7.30pm; Tue 10.30am CAST Doncaster 01302 303959
7-9 Nov Thu 4.30pm; Fri 9.30am & 7pm; Sat 7.30pm Key Theatre Peterborough 01733 207239

2013-10-13 11:51:36

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