Drum Theatre, Plymouth
Adam and Eve meet Hansel and Gretel in this deliciously playful offering from Told By an Idiot. It is based on a story by Michel Faber about twins living on a remote Arctic exploration station with their anthropologist parents. Life is bliss for the children, whose negligent parents leave them free to discover the icy world around them.
But innocence, however white and snowy, cannot last forever. Although the twins fight against the possibility of change and growing up by creating their own strange and savage rituals, the passions of adults – and death itself – destroy the children’s idyll. “Never go outside without a compass,” the twins are warned. But there is more than one way to get lost.
Naomi Wilkinson’s ingeniously flexible design, with its central slide, is the children’s snow-filled playground. Playing the twins, the parents, Arctic foxes and huskies, Hayley Carmichael and Paul Hunter offer performances of compelling directness. If on occasion they sail too close to winsomeness, it’s not long before they veer off into something aching and dark.
Some might dismiss the play as mere fluff, but Matthew Dunster’s production, with its rock soundtrack, keeps the playful otherworldliness anchored closer to home. With a better ending, this would pack a real emotional punch, tapping into a universal experience of loss of innocence, the perils and pleasures of knowledge and a yearning to find yourself and a place called home. Told By an Idiot have a hit on their hands. As the boy twin would put it: “I can tell it in my testaments.”
Lyn Gardner | The Guardian