THE LITTLE SOLDIERS
by Theatre RE.
Cockpit Theatre Gateforth Street NW8 8EH To 2 June 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Sun 5pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 55min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7258 2925.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 May.
Serious clowning and exhilarating theatre.
International troupe Theatre RE have been going since 2009 and this piece about the dynamics of sibling rivalry marks out their style in visual theatre. With one performer entering from each corner they begin to create a sense of circus as a performing context that allows clown-like characters to give distance and clarity of outline to the theme.
With costume, make-up, plus particularly head and nose creating a sense of identity, the two male characters run through routines that are physically skilful, sometimes clownishly funny yet which can contain implied or actual violence.
Unsurprisingly, their enmity is often rivalry for the same woman, here incarnated as a ballerina, a type of grace and beauty. Sometimes the battles are intense, at other moments some kind of harmony is temporarily obtained.
Two theatrical ingredients unite and characterise the scenes. One is the clown-like utility and simplicity with which any object is picked-up and used for purposes its shape may suggest. A long microphone flex whips up a wind, or becomes a swing where all sit happily for a time.
The other is Alex Judd’s music, mixing live and recorded sounds in a varied and individual way, both rhythmic and melodic elements catching the attention and intensifying mood. Rather than merely repeating or over-emphasising the feel of a scene, Judd’s score is often integral in creating it, and allowing performers to exist within a particular atmosphere.
Clowns are intense but temporary creatures. The entry of these four happens from nowhere, and when their intense stage lives are over, they troop off with equanimity, for nothing lasts in their world. They will (no wonder Samuel Beckett was attracted to the clown’s mode in his work) doubtless appear some other time, some other place, to live their experiences again, learning nothing, compelled by their nature to act.
But leaving a vivid impression that’s the stronger for not being tied to particular individual characters; this is theatre where the outline, the general characteristic matters most, individual details working to strengthen that.
Which Theatre RE does with impeccable technique in this thoughtful, involving and imaginatively individual show.
Performers: Guillaume Pigé, Alex Judd, Selma Roth, Malik Ibhels.
Director: Guillaume Pigé.
Composer: Alex Judd.
Lighting: Katherine Graham.
Dramaturg: Bernie C Byrnes.