Away with the Fairies

Tue 20th – Sat 31st March 2012

reviews

Katie Sands

at 22:30 on 20th Mar 2012

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Away with the Fairies is yet another wonderful production staged by the Alma Tavern Theatre in Clifton. The theatre itself is reminiscent of a little show box. its maximum capacity is around forty, making it an extremely intimate and inviting performance space. Upon arrival, the show’s spectators were exceedingly warmly welcomed, and the Alma Tavern itself (the theatre is located on the first floor, with a pub on the ground floor) is truly the perfect space to catch up with friends before the show commences.

Four interesting characters (albeit one that is imaginary) take centre stage within this lively and dynamic production. Upon the dimming of the lights, the audience is introduced to Isobel (Jasmine Darke). She lives on a rurally isolated Orkney farm accompanied by a resident and supernatural troll, who is seemingly her only companion. Rufus is presented as amusingly mischievous; little do we realise that he will play a prominent part in the lives of all the characters. Next comes the neurotic Stanley (Meg Whelan), who lives to be eccentric in every sense of the word. She “works” as a freelance sculptor, and most certainly has a unique imagination in which to frame her artistic endeavours. Stanley finds virtual e-love when encountering Rufus whilst web browsing and woos him with her French chat up lines, spoken seductively in the authentic language of love.

Stanley’s creative sculptures have a darker meaning to them, and seem to centre around suicidal and explosive notions, much to the dismay of Stanley’s daughter, the fed-up-with-the-single life accountant, Barbara (Kirsty Cox). She too fulfils the part time role of caring for her unstable mother.

From sandwiches composed of an interesting lemon curd/ marmite/ peanut butter trio, to half a million pound prototype bomb-centre sculptures, this performance most certainly does not lack imagination! It is a short yet fantastic evening’s entertainment, something which the up-and-coming Director (Eleanor Fogg) should be tremendously proud of.

The production lasted just over an hour, and there was no interval. With a brilliant script and immensely talented actresses, I could have most happily sat through more, and look forward to future releases by the Boohas Theatre Company.

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Chelsey Stuyt

at 09:19 on 21st Mar 2012

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Born as a play reading in Theatre West's 2010 season, Broohas' ‘Away with the Fairies’ grows into pubescence in the shadowy space above the Alma Tavern. While the show has its idiosyncrasies and feels a bit overwrought at times, it has flashes of genius that make you believe that maybe some day it will grow into a beautiful young adult – just not yet.

Isobel McCorriganis, a Nobel prize winning economist, and, it is implied, the accidental architect of the 1990s recession. This event resulted in her withdrawing from the world to the small farm on the Orkney island where the play opens. This withdrawing becomes a recurring theme as Barbara Jones, accountant and daughter of the eccentric artist Stanley Sirrocco, follows the same path at the end of the play. But what is the message? Barbara's escape is spoken about as the cliched young woman finally doing what she wants with her life, but it looks like she's just giving up and running off to Scotland to pluck chickens. It feels clunky and unrealistic.

Oh, and there's a troll up there.

'Rufus' is a troll, pixie, fairy, whatever, that haunts Isobel's farm and in her words, “he makes people see what they need to see – for their own good, of course”. This is the unsteady lynchpin for the rest of the plot as we're left to assume that either this is the case, or he's the mischievous beastie of legend that gets his kicks ruining the lives of others. Sadly, the ending does not clarify which way the boat floats and leaves the audience at sea.

There were, however, rays of light in this dark little room. Searching through her mother's artwork, Barbara comes across a Russian nesting doll with her own face emblazoned across the front. She opens it and finds a smaller one bearing her mother's image inside. Another layer down she finds her own face again. Smiling, she opens this one and finds that it is empty inside and cries out, bringing home the earlier comments about her single-status, infertility, and hostile relationship with her mother. The artistic brilliance of this scene was unmatched by anything else in the play. It successfully tugged at the heart strings and made this reviewer wish the rest of the play had had this multi-layered beauty.

While Eleanor Fogg's stage direction was excellent, critical in such a small space, the performances of the three actresses, while well rehearsed, were a tad overwrought. In a play where the audience is asked to believe in fairies, the ability of the actors to touch the hearts of their audience is key. The characters are a conduit through which the unreal becomes real because of their humanity, but they failed. The acting was far from bad, but it fell short of where it needed to be.

Nonetheless, this is an interesting show that offers more meat than a more traditional pub show. Go see it and let me know what you think.

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