The Indian Boy, The Cube at The RST, Stratford, till 11th Nov


The Indian Boy: Rona Munro
The Royal Shakespeare Company
The Cube at the RST
Runs: 2 hrs: one interval: 7-11 November.
Start: 7.30
Review: Jan Pick 10.11.06

Deep in the forest something stirs ……
Well, actually not much forest is left in Rona Munro’s new play ‘The Indian Boy’. Based on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ it is a fascinating exploration of what has happened to the realm of Oberon and Titania in the modern world. Picking up on the concerns of conservationists at the felling of the great forests and the loss of habitats and woodland, here the last connection with that elemental existence is the Indian boy, – the focus of the original quarrel between Oberon and Titania – still locked in that world, spiritually linked to the great oak tree that just happens to be in the way of Peter Fellows’ construction company’s ‘eco-friendly’ housing development.

The setting was a reminder of Peter Brook’s famous white box ‘Dream’, with the boy played by Rhik Samadder, crawling and swinging round a white wire grid, through which a back projection formed leaves, branches and sky, with one ‘real’ tree branch hanging across the audience. The characters also reminded us of Brook’s seminal production, operating on different levels of consciousness. By now, Theseus/Oberon has almost lost connection with his hidden self. He is a doctor called Julius and his dukedom is his psychiatric clinic. A powerful performance from Colin Salmon, whose determined refusal to recognise any vestiges of the surreal buried deep in his nature is occasionally subverted by his wife, June, the Titania figure, sensitively played by Holly Aird, whose inability to fully embrace reality fascinates him. Her memories and instincts are considered psychotic/manic and treatable not by magic potions but by drugs. The age-old conflict between them is now represented by their quarrel over another child, their daughter, Sara.

It is the Puck figure, Peter Fellows – (his name a throwback to the mythical Robin Goodfellow and Green Man legends) – that still recognises his submerged self – and that of Julius and June – but he is desperate to tame the wilderness. A misfit in MSND, belonging half to the fairy world and half to the wild myths of old England, his reality can only be achieved by destroying and building over the magical wood, the old realm of Oberon and Titania. Then he will be able to fully control his elemental being and truly join the modern world. One thing is stopping him – the deep power held in that woodland and in the trees, represented by the Indian boy. As the wilderness fights back, Fellows’ workmen, modern equivalents of the mechanicals, are deeply upset and suspicious of the somewhat supernatural happenings connected with their building project. So, the boy is lured from the trees to be tamed, but the power he unleashes on those around him, and the environment he is placed in is unexpected, unpredictable and deeply unsettling.

This is a great piece of writing, complex, witty, occasionally surreal, well served by an excellent cast.

Indian Boy: Rhik Samadder
Bricks: David Kennedy
Sparks: Ryan Gage
Chippy: Roderick Smith
Peter: Christopher Fulford
Julius: Colin Salmon
Nurse: Clare Cathcart
June: Holly Aird
Sara: Ashley Madekwe

Director: Rebecca Gatward
Designer: Liz Cooke
Lighting: Alastair West
Sound: Matt McKenzie
Video Design: Gary Vernon
Movement: Liz Ranken
Fights: Terry King
Dialect Coach: Jan Hayden Rowles
Casting: Sam Jones
Costume Supervisor: Yvonne Milnes
Production Manager: Aude Albiges
Company Stage Manager: Anna Belderbos
DSM: Alice Irving
ASM: Sophie Milne

2006-11-13 09:48:39

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