Barnstaple Theatrefest 2013
Sam Gibbs, joins forces with musician Pete Buffery to bring the epic tale of Beowulf to the stage in their own unique style. Can such an epic tale be told by one actor and a musician?
Beowulf, the tale of one man’s unbelievable bravery and strength is almost made believable again, as Sam Gibbs taps into his playful, physical style of storytelling. Moving seamlessly between direct storytelling and making character, he creates a cast of comedic and ridiculous caricatures, which are believable in their failings. Beowulf desperately tries to make excuses to avoid a battle that he thinks he can’t win. In a high voice and simply wishing to say hello, Grendal, is the least monstrous monster anyone could imagine. Fun and unorthodox characterisation challenges the hero stereotype. The stage for this production is bare. Sam makes all the props, sound effects and places with his body and voice. Somehow he managed to convey the grotesque whilst maintaining the humour. He has made his training at Gaulier his own, demonstrating clarity within the physicality of his performance.
It would have been a relief to have more respite from the unrelenting nature of one actor throwing so much at a high-action performance, but Pete Buffrey’s presence and musical interludes went a long way to achieving this. Pete’s role was was integral and essential in the story telling. Rhythm was used to convey journey, marking the pulse of walking, swimming and running. The performers played off each other, creating a musical and physical ‘conversation’, which threw humorous tension into the style of delivery.
Overall this is a great piece of theatre. The diversions from the story and ‘nods’ to the audience were engaging. A wealth of theatrical and musical talent coupled with a sense of playfulness on the stage makes this performance immensely entertaining.