Company:Collisions, The Constant Tin Soldier

Review in Issue 15-2 | Summer 2003

At nightfall, under a half moon, in the shadow of St Peter’s Church, the expectant crowds approach a bare scaffolded stage for Company:Collisions’ commissioned piece The Constant Tin Soldier. We are not disappointed in this version of Andersen’s tale, there is no falling from the window into the gutter to be swallowed by a fish – our tin soldier’s treacherous journey is into the cavernous jaws of a more apocalyptic nightmare…

As the clock strikes midnight, the nursery toys come to life – only to be trained for death by a belligerent tutu-clad sergeant-major (played with energetic presence by John Healey). Wearing an expression of earnest bewilderment, Sarah Leaver gives as a ‘runt of the toy trunk’ tin soldier played with sharp and vital movement. With atmospheric lighting and a soundscape that careers from magical music box to bleak ambient, Company:Collisions bring us an astute picture of the futility of war. Performed in the constant presence of the aloof ballerina are heart-gripping scenes of the doll army’s pathetic attempts to snap into taut action in the face of battle. Alongside our tin soldier, in Victorianesque costume, we have quivering dolls armed with rolling pins, sink plungers, hammers and spoons.

Another memorable choreography is towards the end when the dolls partner empty black suits in a chaotic tumultuous tango. Director Tanuska Marat appears as a ‘Duchess of war’, an imposing menacing memorial to the notion of the glorious death. What is left when even her monolithic defiance crumbles?

This production is imaginative in expression and bold in execution. A theatrical requiem for innocent souls.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Date Seen
  1. May 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-2
p. 25