‘Once upon a time, a couple fell into their child’s imagination’… and the audience went tumbling in after.
Theatre company Dirty Market have a reputation for aesthetic verve and rigour and they don’t disappoint with this deliriously warped fairy tale. The kooky script, devised by the company, occasionally gets too weird for its own good. But the visual side of this show, which takes us on an extraordinary journey through a young boy’s mind, is fearless and compelling.
Bryan Woltjen’s superb set makes inspired use of the venue, an abandoned print works in Hoxton. The deeper we go into the protagonist’s imagination, the stranger the space becomes.
The show opens on a narrow stage, where a boy is haunted by clawing silhouettes of groaning witches. We are then led to the edge of a magical wood, which is illustrated using a series of dazzling, Grayson Perry-esque paintings. In between scenes, the flickering projection of the boy darts about the sparkling painted landscape.
Oscar Gibbs holds the sprawling script together with his clever songs and winking narrative. The characters are very, very strange; like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ extras, only much more frightening. Benedict Hopper terrifies as a squawking witch and Arti Naithani’s twisted Bo Peep is the stuff of nightmares. Sometimes wayward but always intriguing and novel, this show makes even the zaniest companies look dull.
By Miriam Gillinson
Average User Rating
5 / 5
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Superbly imaginative in its conception, creative in its staging and performed with conviction, Oxbow Lakes was genuinely funny and entertainingly surreal at times. Beginning in the 'real world' it is accurately observed with a well crafted script and convincing performances, nicely understated at times, from Georgina Sowerby and Jon Lee as Jill and Jack. As the audience is literally drawn in, first to the nightmares of their child and then further to another layer within this realm, the mind is boggled. Performances of great personality from Benedict Hopper, Arti Natharni and Francesca Dale captivate us and the witty and musical narration of (the once lost) Oscar Gibbs punctuates, illustrates and augments the experience. The evening flows smoothly from start to finish and seems to pass in the blink of an eye. I felt fortunate that we found our way to the basement of this industrial building (just in time) to see this bewitching gem. Thanks to all involved.