Edinburgh Fringe 2012
An adaptation of the classic Rime of the ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – a well know tale of a crew whose ship gets thrown of coarse by a storm. Square Peg approaches this poem conceptually and it carries well, the use of circus skill and ensemble dance fits and pulls out the text and narration. The context of a ship sets a great scene for acrobatics and aerial work.
An adaptation of the classic Rime of the ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – a well know tale of a crew whose ship gets thrown of coarse by a storm. Whilst lost the crew see an albatross and rejoice as they think it will save them, but the Mariner shoots the albatross and the crew becomes outraged. By shooting the albatross the Mariner has brought on death as spirits of the sea and the weather turn against the ship and lead it further into un-chartered waters.
The Crew dies one at a time leaving only the Mariner alive. There is much more detail in the poem of spirits and ghost ships and seascape magic, which is left out of Square pegs version. Square Peg approaches this poem conceptually and it carries well, the poem become a site for circus and dance, and a few key characters are pulled out; the albatross, the mariner and spirit of death. The use of circus skill and ensemble dance fits and pulls out the text and narration. The context of a ship sets a great scene for acrobatics and aerial work, with ropes, pulleys and sails there is much space for climbing, balancing and swinging.
Coleridge’s text is spattered through out the performance to sets the tone and move the story on, it frames the circus routine or movement sequence. The poetry alone isn’t given a lot of time that I feel was a shame. A woman in white, who walks the tightrope, her arms flaying in wing-like fashion but also as a tightrope walker keeping balance, represents the albatross – this joining of form and character was fantastic. Another highlight was when the cast are moving into madness and dying one by one, the choreography is fast and floor based, they sit dazed and then fall flat, repeating faster and faster again. This really whipped up the pace and created a sense of hysteria that was exciting and provocative. The arrival of death, was such as the albatross but in black, death dances with the crew and they drop off one by one. This character would have worked better with more menace and even the contribution of some trapeze or aerial work to give it that ethereal quality, but they stayed rooted.
The array of acrobatics from the whole cast was consistent and impressive. The circus skills where integrated well into the set but not entirely into the story of the poem. The space was very bright and naturally lit so the moments of darkness within the piece, the initial storm and the descent into madness and death didn’t achieve their full dramatic status as there was little atmosphere. It felt like a piece of work for outdoors, and now moving inside, it didn’t fully utilizes the facilities of the theatre.
The cast members have exceptional and competent circus skills, the piece as a whole is a pleasant journey through a familiar tale.