Fevered Sleep Tour to 20 March 2010.
Runs 45 min No interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 11 December at Young Vic (Maria Theatre).
A fine experience for 5-7 year olds.
Once upon a time, theatre for children and young people was either twee or patronising. Not any more. Some of the best and most imaginative theatre is now to be found by companies creating theatre for younger audiences. Fevered Sleep is certainly one of them. I hadn’t seen them before, but they have acquired a fine and growing reputation.
The Forest, commissioned by Lyric Hammersmith, produced by the ever-inventive Fuel, developed by the Young Vic, Sadlers Wells, Corn Exchange Newbury and touring in early 2010, is indicative of this new world. Fevered Sleep’s Forest doesn’t try to tell a story. Instead it conjures up a forest’s elemental and environmental qualities.
Over 45 minutes we are treated to a series of what you might call `situations’, suggesting experiences that might be encountered in a wood.
So, you might discover new trees and birds; you might be aware of light shafting through the trees; of the moon coming up; or dawn rising. You might get lost and you might need friends to support you. You might also be aware of smells, or the weight of things; the heaviness of sleep and stones and the lightness of a feather falling.
All of these are beautifully and subtly woven into a climbing, falling, gliding, skipping and cat’s-cradle patterning that obviously requires supreme co-ordination by the three performers, Robin Dingemans, Sachi Kimura and Petra Soor, who make it look as easy as – falling off a log. And what they do with red string isn’t to be believed.
A show of infinite, gentle skills, it was wonderful to see how it held the attention of its audience and more, inspired them in several respects. Bird sounds were quickly echoed back to the performers. At the end, a great cloud of conkers descends. Children are asked to collect them, and in so doing take the opportunity to emulate the movements of the performers, pushing, gliding and jumping and beaming at their achievements.
If their reaction is anything to go by, this is clearly the future of young people’s theatre: collaborative, spatial, experiential.
Cast: Robin Dingemans, Sachi Kimura, Petra Soor.
Directors: David Harradine, Sam Butler.
Design: David Harradine, Sam Butler, Ali Beale.
Lighting: Hansjörg Schmidt.
Sound/Music: Jamie McCarthy.
Choreographer: David Harradine.