THE GREAT ESCAPE (A BORROWER’S TALE)
by Kazuko Hohki and Andy Cox.
Battersea Arts Centre Lavender Hill SW11 5TN To 31 December 2010.
23; 27-31 December 11.30am & 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7223 2223.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 18 December.
Theatre as investigation developed in fine detail.
Theatre, literature and science meet in this interactive promenade at Battersea Arts Centre. Mary Norton’s story of the Borrowers, the tiny folk who live beneath the floors of human homes, relying for food and furnishings on what either drops from above or can be purloined when no human’s looking, is a fine explanation for why people can rarely find anything they’ve dropped, while things that were clearly there yesterday or this morning, have so often vanished by today, or the afternoon.
The little people concerned have, it seems, been the object of study for some time now, and there’s a call out for help from 6-11s to advance the cause. A team of scientists kits volunteers out in identical white coats and specs, then leads them round various parts of BAC, providing background information, and encouraging engagement with a display of Borrowers artefacts which amounts to an interactive museum of their culture and lifestyle. Later, come examples of Borrowers music (their favourite pop group naturally being Take This).
Each investigator is also given a pamphlet of photos, showing different Borrower installations to be located en route. There are also tests, to see if potential investigators are picking up on key points. And warnings about the film to be viewed in one room, showing the tactics of the grisly KBD – Keep Borrowers Down.
It’s here there are ructions between the scientists, one being accused of letting her scientific detachment waver because of an attachment to one particular Borrower called Bob. And it is indeed Bob whom everyone must finally help escape through a complex device modelled in the display room, and then eventually discovered full-sized out in Lavender Hill, as the KBD is once again foiled through an ingenious escape by balloon.
There’s a sympathetic yet scientifically crisp approach to all this, while the variety of environments around the building and the mix of roles for the participants – as listeners, observers, discoverers, participants – makes for a fascinating experience. And one which shows how scientific enquiry and the voyage of discovery audiences go on during a theatrical experience have intriguing parallels.
Full cast and credits not available.