Brighton Fringe 2012
Filskit’s own take on this classic fairy tale, with music, film, shadowplay and physical theatre, rooted in storytelling and performance.
White parasols adorn the stage and some very modern sounding music doesn’t quite fit with the visual on stage as we enter. An electric keyboard onstage to the right. This discord sets up a dark feel to the story. This is a performance that begins with a striking tableau. You fan feel the interest and expectation grow in the audience.
Simple staging of white on a black backdrop. Silence. A flute. Props are hung by a performer from parasols or placed into upturned ones.
Children continue to watch, fascinated, expectantly.
Using music, film and live action the story is created. The tale of a girl of "blooming perfection…"
A tale of reflection of human perfection, the performers perform expressively and are at ease on the large Warren stage. Two tweedldee-dum-like performers carry the tale with confidence, skill and much well crafted physicality. This is their own take on Snow White.
What doesn’t fully work here is that we have imaginatively designed visuals on the one hand, and fairly classically and physically told story on the other, but it doesn’t quite join together to create the needed synergy.
The two performers who tell the story jointly do it will skill and character-full energy in the following way: They have a rapport with each other that is never clumsy. They share even parts of sentences, often as if they are one person. The story travels around the performance space and it creates a lovely airy flow to the narrative, sometimes it moves so much, that it can overwhelm.
Shadow play is a real strength of the piece combined with simple and well drawn flute accompaniment. There’s a studied and careful use of lit shadow movement that creates tender moments, moments of sharp focus, drawing us in.
Physical theatre is a cornerstone of this and it is well realised on stage and helps to carry the story. But there’s too much interference with the story and it sometimes feels like too much of a backdrop to the creative intentions of the company.
There’s playful interplay between film, music, parasols and performers. As the story enters the forest, Snow White remains partly hidden, firing our visual imagination to create her beauty ourselves. Lighting, duet song, music and vocal sound effects create a hushed forest mood and a hint of venturing into the unknown. When we finally get to see Snow White, there’s a glorious and telling impact. That’s bold staging. Well done.
The company are to be congratulated on the design which is often colourfully beautiful. Placement is so intuitively right that the stage tableau is a work of art in itself.
For devised work to really shine in live realisation in front of an audience, the devising process itself has to disappear, leaving only the result. This largely happens in Show White but not completely, especially in some of the physical set pieces. A bit of further work on this will allow the narrative to emerge more fully and take the production up a level. There’s sometimes too much elaboration and I sensed a confusion amongst some of the younger children in the audience.
Some of the mobile lighting effects reminded me of the Edinburgh 2010 hit The Lamplighter’s Lament. In that show, light was employed with pitch perfect precision. Anything even a little less degrades the effect a lot. In Snow White they need to arrive at a similar precision to really achieve the suspension of disbelief in an audience bring invites into s storyscape that is mixing acting, film and mobile projection.
But there’s are many, many virtues here: the visual impact of the set, the performance skills of the two storytellers, the crisp and accessible shadow work, the simplicity and enhancing qualities of the music. It isn’t quit there yet as a whole entity but it is still well worth seeing for its visual delight, emotional energy and often unique atmosphere. And it’s probably one of the most visually interesting shows on the Fringe.
And there’s such a spirit of inventiveness, such a lot to enjoy, smile and laugh at, and so many interesting and magical moments, I have to recommend it.