Unusual tale of friendship engrosses in intimate setting

Unusual tale of friendship engrosses in intimate setting

SHOW: The Snow Goose
DIRECTOR: Jenine Collocott
CAST: James Cairns and Taryn Bennett
VENUE: Auto & General Theatre on the Square, Mandela Square until 16 May
REVIEW: PETER FELDMAN

Paul Gallico’s classic novella, ‘The Snow Goose,’ is brought vividly to life with minimalist staging, a range of masks and two dedicated players in James Cairns and Taryn Bennett.
Director Jenine Collocott has done a fine adaptation of the work, using imaginative and creative staging techniques to bring out the essence of the story, which is set during World War II. Evocative music of the era and skilful lighting, with effective use made of shadow puppets, help propel a story played out on the desolate Essex marshes.

Bennett plays a young waif-like girl, Frith, who rescues a Canadian Snow Goose after it had been shot down by hunters. By saving the bird, Firth comes into contact with a reclusive, hunchback, Philip Rhayader (Cairns), who mans the lighthouse, and together they form an unusual relationship.
The girl manages to bring release to the man’s inner turmoil and as their friendship grows she discovers another side to an individual who has been shunned by the town folk.

He performs an act of heroism during the aftermath of the battle of Dunkirk with his little boat
A fascinating facet of the play is that director Collocott has chosen to have her players wear masks to reflect the various characters which they inhabit and they give life to the characters in voice and movement.

In her programme notes she states: “My decision to choose masks as the vehicle to relay this to the audience was fundamental to the way we pursued the project. Mask has the ability to transpose emotions through simple actions and this was the conceptual key to unlocking the theatrical impact of the powerful story.”
This poetic piece is rendered even more powerful by the two players, who slip effortlessly in and out of the various characters, which include a Post Mistress named Valerie, Frith’s pragmatic father and Rhayader.

There is wonderful movement introduced which embellishes the work, with Frith teaching Rhayader how to dance in one touching scene.
‘The Snow Goose’ is an appealing, cleverly devised slice of theatre with both Cairns and Bennett doing masterly work in creating a bunch of distinctive characters.
The staging is simple, with coloured crates serving to depict such diverse props as a post office and a small sailing vessel.
This engrossing production is ideally suited for the intimate confines of Daphne Kuhn’s little theatre.

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