Edinburgh Fringe 2012
"Award-winning Singapore company I Theatre (Under the Baobab Tree, Rainbow Fish) join forces with award-winning UK company Kipper Tie Theatre (The Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business, Hillbilly Goats Gruff) to bring you Our Island. Three diverse and comical characters are washed up on a mystery island. "
Threee people wake up, stranded on a desert Island. So begins our stay of under an hour with the trio – a stay in which rather a lot of interesting things happen !
The island is invoked through a mix of musical and sound backdrop, movement and human-made effects. The physicality is often grounded in reaction to others’ actions and decisions and the three performers work together fluently and their characters are different enough from each other to create a nice diversity, adding to the richness of the piece. They communicate with gesture and made up language. It all adds up to something that is lush, visually appealing and well constructed as physical theatre.
It isn’t straightforward storytelling. So it is up to we, the audience to reach forward into the piece and to make sense of it. This is easier to achieve when the interactions are clear and where character motivations are unambiguous. It works less clearly when there is too much vocal and physical overlap. It becomes a bit of s sensory overload
One test is whether the two very attentive children I brought with me followed it and got it. And even if they didn’t get it all, did they live it? Did it reach the heart? They came out not getting all of it but still saying they really enjoyed it.
This is a beautiful piece of theatre that plays with theatre as if it were as set of acoustic instruments. There’s a pantomime "she’s behind you" fun element in places in a setting where the island these three wake up on becomes a micro world on which their story can be played out. The choice of colours in lights and costume, the selection of sounds, recorded and live, all support the choreography and slightly, in places, bemusing narrative.
I think the vocalising, speaking in made up language doesn’t add as much as it should. The piece shines forth when we have simplicity – movement, eye theatre, and there’s one moment which I wont spoil for you where movement, mime, voice, props, and dance combine to create profound beauty.
Pacing and tempo are important in physical children’s theatre and this is another strength of the piece. They play with changes in tempo so very well and nimbly and if you mapped this show as music it would be an engaging listen – full of variety, interest, mood, fun, chaos, yet with a strong thread running through.
This is theatre as it was a long time ago; theatre of gesture and sound, pared back to an archetypal minimum in places; the dynamics of human interaction as we, as islands of individuality with our own inner language and meaning link up, reach out in ways that make us happy and angry, laugh and cry. It’s a playful piece with simple yet effective use of mood lighting, some lovely and affecting rhythmical set pieces that I personally wish were made entirely live and not recorded.
A fascination with things. A tapestry of a hundred little stories and happenings on an island. Enchanting and different, this is a lovingly made piece of theatre, performed equally with love and care.
I can still feel the gentle waves of Our Island washing against the shores of my hectic Edinburgh Fringe.