Barrowland Ballet have created a world where magic happens. Within a box, within the mundane family atmosphere a tiger arrives. It arrives in the shape of the father and through his influence things are never the same again as they all find that inner roar.
We see three people – father, mother, daughter – in a box with buckets on their heads. The stage is a box that has string all round it. Once the audience are settled we are treated to “morning” and all three dancers begin their routine day with their routines. The first to look for something more is the daughter who gets reeled back in before father stretches the confines of the box until he escapes. He brings down from the ceiling of this box several buckets that have oranges in. These scatter before father goes off to return wearing a bright orange suit. He starts to manipulate the buckets and challenge his family as the buckets are swung and interacted with before mum releases herself from her grey overalls to wear a floral patterned dress. The mundane is swept away before they return to the next morning. This day, though is not to be the same as the others. Their routine is altered as are they and the finale with the buckets brought the house down and the audience to their feet.
The narrative here is sparkling. It has all the elements needed to create an event. When the event is your father turning into a tiger it is easy to think that when they were creating this piece it must have been hard to explain but there is clarity throughout. There is little by way of tragedy and much by way of comedy as the audience marvel at each of these three performers. This is about the everyday being interrupted by a “happening” which will change people forever. What is particularly wonderful about Tiger is that this is NOT about tragedy but about the joy if living a life through the interruption of a fantasy.
The performer’s commitment to this piece is second to none. Simple dance moves look complex, complex dance moves look simple. There is a fearless quality – yes tiger like – in how the performers come out of their box and interact. You are as likely to have orange juice coming straight out at you as an orange when the tiger really makes an impact.
The set looks highly complex with the wires but once you realise that some of them are holding the buckets in suspense you get what is going on. When those wires let go the buckets and they crash it shocks. When they let out the oranges you are intrigued. The playfulness between father and daughter with those oranges is great. There were too many highlights to list as this sits up there with some of the best movement pieces I have ever seen.
Barrowland Ballet got a standing ovation, not just for the massive effort in putting this piece on, the commitment of the performers in their exertions but also for the inventive narrative that we witnessed. It not only made sense that when something massive happens to a family that they all change but it felt as though we were witness to something gargantuan. This is a company making its way in Scottish theatre and the evidence of this that pathway shall be littered with glittering prizes.