Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TYGER, ‘The Kimberly Tin’: All The Small Things

Nun’s Island Theatre, Galway Theatre Festival
Oct 25-26

My review of The Kimberly Tin coming up just as soon as I listen to Just Seventeen ...

While awaiting The Kimberly Tin to commence I was talking to a man sitting beside me who asked if I had a biscuit tin at home containing memorabilia from my life. It occurred to me at that point that perhaps tin boxes (Kimberly or otherwise) were a more universal means of storing memories than I originally considered.

It is this universality that TYGER’s latest production seems to draw inspiration from. Director Jessica Curtis has decided that the miscellaneous voices uncovered in the discovery of a mystery box of bitter love letters, diary entries, and musical recordings deserve to be heard onstage. She’s working with individual snapshots, evidence of a bigger narrative. The challenge here is to give these smaller parts of a whole enough urgency to captivate an audience.

Performers enact a series of random and isolated episodes. We have a confidence-building correspondence breaking up with a “self-centred pig from hell”, two friends’ adventures (with typical complaints) whilst in America, and a personal description of a girl’s first kiss (delivered by a boy). Piano and ballet lessons are gunned down by musical satires. A bare stage with the occasional stack of cardboard storage boxes comprise of the set, leaving most interactions with material objects to the miming imaginations of the actors. This is ensemble theatre celebrated, where adults are at play (Emmet Byrne dons a Superman cape throughout). Most colourful of Curtis’s technique though is her employment of the actor as musical instrument. Cacophony settles to melody, gestures unite in choreography, and these are the main tools by which these fragments attempt to weave together a cohesive whole.

Cohesion, unfortunately, is what slips through the hands of this piece, compromised by the looseness of the ensemble method. Curtis’s transitions are the chief offenders, lacking considerable punctuation and allowing scenarios to weaken and bleed into each other as opposed to delivering the individual kicks they aim for. Furthermore, the placement of bodies onstage can sometimes seem aimless and clumsy, and the cast, as versatile and likeable as they are, tend to race through the more emotionally rich territory of the production.  

Saying that, in storing away our own memories of The Kimberly Tin, it would be undeserving to dispose of its charm and variance. Its bite may need a crunch but the result isn’t stale.   

What did everybody else think?

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