Footsbarn Travelling Theatre, Perchance to Dream and The Tempest

Review in Issue 17-4 | Winter 2005

It has been several years since I saw Footsbarn, and I was eager to be re-acquainted. I found their strengths still considerable: energetic use of their special space, the circus tent, clever light and shadow play with huge swathes of fabric, playful use of ‘silent’ movies and comic borrowing from the commedia dell’arte tradition. Those new to their work clearly find much to delight and surprise – there were standing ovations at both performances (although at Perchance’s opening some left before the end), but I felt disappointed at the little development in their work over the years. Their puppets, while beautiful, are underused, remaining wooden, and seeming just another trick in the bag. But the root of my reservation is the poor ability of some performers to tackle the text. Footsbarn’s strength is in the visual, and while edited, long tracts of text were recited poorly and handicapped by strong accents which, I felt, dragged the pace. Exploiting their international nature, the cast often spoke their own language also, and I found this more successful, although it could be overused. In Perchance to Dream, a medley of shows which read as a kind of ‘greatest hits’ at times, and the large number of leading roles required, meant performers weak at this kind of work had roles they were unfit for. Perhaps at the end of a long international tour the playing was also deadened by exhaustion? Unfortunately, while I came away with many beautiful images, I also felt exhausted rather than inspired.

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Date Seen
  1. Jun 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-4
p. 30