first night

Tales of East Wind

Owen Sparkes experiences an evening of stylised physical theatre with Wrong Tree Theatre.

As soon as the cast entered the Norman Chapel last night, the audience were dramatically thrown into the world of Wrong Tree Theatre’s Tales of East Wind. I truly had no idea what to expect from this evening of theatre, but the overall production was very enjoyable, and the result of the team’s work was an incredibly interesting and satisfying show.

The energy of the cast in Tales of East Wind was flawless, with every single one of them confidently taking on the multitude of roles that they were faced with, yet always returning successfully to their original characters. The power with which they delivered the demands of the physical piece was commendable, with standout performances coming from Josh Williams’ drunkard of a sailor and Lucy Nicholson’s collected yet dark characterisation. Barney Mercer’s depiction was excellent, and it was exciting to witness the journey his character experienced during the short play. However, every single one of the performers should be incredibly proud of their work; physical theatre is notoriously difficult, but every single one of them reached fantastic levels.

The performances of all the actors were enhanced by some wonderful touches of production. The team must be credited for the lighting, which heightened the stories of the play and did much to ensure clarity within a play that broke down traditional scene boundaries. Hamish Clayton must be given credit for directing inventive and punctuating movement, and Lucy Knight’s musical direction added so much to a short piece to make it all the more moving.

I love the Norman Chapel, and I think it is seriously underused in DST, so it was wonderful to be able to attend another production in the amazing space it provides. However, I did wonder whether the small size of the performance space was quite right for this production. The big movements that this piece of physical theatre required meant that audience members often had to move out of the way for fear of being hit, and as much as I appreciated how well the performance made the audience feel immersed in the story, I think this could be tamed somewhat to prevent any unnecessary contact between actors’ limbs and the audience. Additionally, due to the ad hoc nature of the varying roles that each of the actors took on, it would have been nice to hear some variation in their voices, perhaps through accents, to differentiate between their characters.

Having said that, the overall impact of Tales of East Wind was successful, and it was a brief but enjoyable piece of theatre. With some minor adaptations it could be even better, and I would recommend that you buy a ticket to support the innovation of Wrong Tree Theatre, if nothing else!

9 December 2016

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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