Slung Low, Helium

Review in Issue 21-1 | Spring 2009

The audience is greeted in the foyer by boiler-suited removal (wo)men from Helium Removals. My guide is the cheerful Lucy and so begins our short individual journey through the worlds, sounds and sights of Max, Bella and the Grotesque.

Lucy guides me from room to room; rough hewn boxes, like packing crates on the outside which open to reveal carefully crafted world where we can be invisible eavesdroppers on key moments in Max’s life. From his study to his deathbed, we follow Max as the final segments of his life unfold – spliced with his memories.

Set, sound and video are the dominant elements, and combine particularly well as we go on a bombing raid over Dresden with a young Max. Occasionally Helium falters, but there is a sense we’re being looked after and there’s a care in the crafting of the spaces that other, more high-profile, companies could learn from.

There’s a danger with the weight of expectation that comes with winning The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, which places often inexperienced companies under a high level of critical scrutiny. Slung Low’s carefully crafted world disarms and charms. Whilst there are problematic moments, this is genuinely good work which could never be made by an emerging company in today’s funding climate without the help of such an award.

As I walk out into the concrete jungle I am cheered to know that I’m carrying a gift of a helium balloon in a box with my name on it – a gift just like Bella received every year from her grandfather. And I smile.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Sep 2008

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-1
p. 27