Edinburgh Fringe 2019
“From the absurd to the moving, magical, funny and intriguing. Swallow the Sea Caravan Theatre gives an escape from the norm and plunges audiences into a different world. Shadow and tabletop puppetry, object theatre, poetry, installation and live soundscape give a rare opportunity to experience intimate all-immersive theatre in the tiniest of settings with the smallest of audiences.”
There’s something special happening in the courtyard, a tiny old school caravan is actually a theatre. Swallow the Sea Caravan Theatre has arrived and presents a schedule of several different twenty-minute plays, several times a day.
This company specialises in creating and performing short plays for small audiences, of from four to seven audience members, to be exact.
Three theatre makers who also perform the plays created all the shows: Jemima Thewes, Emma Brierley and Jessica Raine.
Performances encompass visual immersion with storytelling, light and shadow play, objects, puppetry, poetry, music and song.
Lamp is an abstract absurdist object piece about two characters who interact with sounds and fascinating gestures. Two performers bring these objects to life in a most unusual way with personalities and human traits. The piece is lively, entertaining and performed with finesse.
Up North is completely different and dream-like with melodic song, stillness and beautiful hand crafted scenery and shadow puppetry. The story is about the north – the arctic – and transports us in its simplicity and care to detail. During Up North it seemed like there were several puppeteer storytellers performing the show but there was only one.
Watching the performances with just a handful of people is interesting and special – the intimate space heightens the experience. The tiny theatre space is used well and sometimes small torches become a main source of lighting!
This is truly a theatre of the imagination. All the stories are carefully crafted and the objects, puppets and set pieces are carefully designed and hand made. For example, a scene involving the sea includes hand brushed water colour imagery. A wooden box is more of a contraption with handles that produces magical moving scenery looks like it is from yesteryear, all in keeping with the style of the caravan itself.
The plays will be enjoyed by adults just as much as younger people. In the two shows I saw there were only adults in the audience and we were well entertained!
While the storytelling is visual accompanied by sound effects, song or music, there is also a fascinating sensory element one feels, because of the purity and simplicity of the productions. This is lo tech theatre and proud of it, we are in the moment, watching every little movement and hearing every sound.
Swallow the Sea Caravan takes you to a world of imaginative stories that is creative and charming. If you see the caravan go and see a show or two – to see what it’s all about!