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FringeReview Scotland 2023

Too Close to the Sun

Barrowland Ballet

Genre: Children's Theatre

Venue: The Platform, Easterhouse


Low Down

We begin with a stage which has three large structures at the back, looking like large box graters and the front of the stage polluted with poles and plastic. Our protagonist arrives and is pushed back by the poles becoming a sea trying to bring the tide and the debris caught up in it with it to shore. The two chorus who manipulate the poles then make themselves present by talking to us about their reason for being there – the environment, stories of Daedalus, his son Icarus, the maze in which they found the Minotaur and how we should take care of our precious planet. From there, through soundscape, beautiful physicality, interaction between all three and the sea trying to divest itself of the sickness we have given it, the crescendo of flight is to be imagined as chorus and protagonists alight to prove that the closer to the sun you get, perspective may be gained.


This was an enchanting tale told with a very serious aspect to it. The introduction and framing of the Greek chorus and the stories from ancient Greek helped frame the message which was good as the obvious connections between pollution and Icarus were not immediately obvious.

Directed with skill, we got a well-structured piece of dance theatre which was beautifully choreographed. Dancers, Molly Danter, Ilona Gumowska and Charlotte Mclean gave us a tender and affecting portrait of being stuck on an island and trying to get off – and that is the connection with the Greek story. Now escaping from the pollution is an obvious metaphor. The interaction with the three structures at the back were craftily used and their creative pull of managing to show us the humour and desperation of their plight was poised effectively. The soundscape contributed to the tonality and the message itself.

My favourite part of the theatricality was the use of projection. Whilst not original it was wonderfully effective, my favourite being the bag in which appeared someone was dancing. I sat forward and felt that this was assured and creatively worthwhile.

Its greatest beauty, however, came in the context of an audience that was wrapped in the performances. The ability to use physical tone was exemplary whilst the story was never lost on the young audience. The physical pollution made a statement but the physical being of the performers translated that into a  message. I would have loved to have been closer to the piece as the distance, even between the front row and the performers was one which caused a degree of distance that could have allowed for a greater grasp of some of the spectacle – ironically as the idea of having perspective was central to what I took away from it.

Overall, however, the tonnage of plastic we dump into an ocean has never quite been so creatively exposed as a scandal about which we must act.

Image: Jassy Earl.



Show Website

Barrowland Ballet