THE TIN SOLDIER
by Peut-Être Theatre.
Roundhouse (Studio) Chalk Farm Road NW1 8EH To 4 January 2015.
11am & 2.30pm no performance 1 Jan.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 0300 678 9222.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 23 December.
Physically dynamic, colourful, with an attractive soundtrack.
If you missed it at Barnsley’s Civic – a confidently rebuilt arts centre that displays civic purpose at its best – you can catch this piece at London’s Roundhouse – which bears a plaque recording playwright Arnold Wesker’s campaign for trades union advocacy of the arts. What Wesker and the Civic share is a belief that anyone should be able see the imaginative products of their own time. And anyone aged 3+ could find both an emotionally satisfying story and joy in the physical skills of this piece, told mainly through movement – with some vocalised sounds but hardly any words.
It’s based on a Hans Andersen story, and anyone also venturing south of the river to the Unicorn’s Nutcracker this Christmas will see how some similar material – an imperfect military toy in love – is handled differently by the Danish children’s author andNutcracker’s Prussian creator E T A Hoffmann. The Tin Soldier has not been injured, but was last to be made from an old metal spoon and so lacks a leg.
Though he is badly treated as someone with a disability by his rival and enemy, there is none of the pervasive air of cruelty Hoffmann etches into every detail of his storytelling. Instead, as Daphna Attias’ ever-active production shows, there’s an overall mood of hope. Both the soldier and his paper ballerina persevere in love; their nemesis being a Jack-in-the-Box gives both a shock but also a playful element to his appearances.
The lovers face enough difficulty to resonate with the injustice and hurt life can throw at the young, but enough adventure and challenge – by land and under water – to create a positive atmosphere, with somr sheer fun in chasing and searching around the audience. Such life and colour is needed before an end which sees the lovers stay united as they are respectively melted-down and burned-up.
But it’s the precision and elegance of movement across the floor and over the boxes of the set that’s most attractive. That and the dual-composed, quirkily individual music which enhances and gives a sense of continuity to the action in this ingenious, individual piece.
Soldier: Alistair Goldsmith.
Friend: Emily Nicholl.
Ballerina: Maya Politaki.
Jack-in-the-Box: Sam Alty.
Director: Daphna Attias.
Designer: Anna Bruder.
Lighting: Nicola Hill.
Composer: Yana Fridel, Lemez Lovas.
Associate director: Terry O’Donovan.