Theatre Alibi, Close to Home

Review in Issue 17-3 | Autumn 2005

Reminiscence, verbatim and other forms of theatre that use true-life stories are certainly flavour of the moment. The challenge for a total theatre company is to enable the resulting text generated from these stories to be ‘cooked’ into something other than documentary. This Theatre Alibi does admirably in Close to Home, bringing their twenty-one years experience of theatre-making to the task in hand: finding ways for the various elements of spoken word, visual image, physical expression and music to work harmoniously together. Just what do we mean by ‘home’? This is the question Theatre Alibi asked of a number of people born in the UK but with roots elsewhere. The resulting answers, as explored in Close to Home, are many and various: banned books thrown from the house by a zealous father, the taste of fish fingers singing Kookaburras, memories of the Muppets on TV. In the time-honoured physical theatre tradition, three performers play all the characters evoked in the three stories told. We hear the voices of (amongst many others) a Turkish grandfather, an Australian mother and a half-Bengali child brought up in an English orphanage. This last gives rise to a very lovely use of puppetry, as Muppet character Ernie plays out the hopes, fears and innermost feelings of that child. The human performers are equally engaging – I wouldn’t have thought, before seeing this show, that two grown men could transform so credibly into eight year-old girls! In the only section that I felt didn’t quite work we had a sudden switch to film – interesting enough footage of the streets of Calcutta, but purely illustrative, mirroring the related story. But even this section redeemed itself as the live performers fade to black in front of screen images that dissolve into a tapestry of colour – another magic moment in an enchanting show.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-3
p. 29