Theatre-rites, Cellarworks

Review in Issue 11-3 | Autumn 1999

Theatre-rites make site-specific shows for children. This one happens in and around a disused ragtrade workshop in North London. Like all good site-led performances, Cellarworks draws absolutely upon its location, and knits together a charming story about a man's desire for a remarkable new suit.

The piece is full of tightly woven echoes of the building's past, and is pinned together before the audience as the dressmaking matron Celia (wonderfully characterised by Alex Martin) whisks client and audience alike around her comically surreal workshop. There are moments of absolute beauty in the show – particularly when a cutting pattern is brought to life as a full-size puppet and a swatch of white silk becomes a dancing partner. The use of video projection works best when transforming the design of a length of 'magic cloth', but doesn't always fully justify its presence. At times its use seems merely tokenistic, when it should rather have been developed as an organic part of the whole show.

Bruce Sharp's sound installation combines aural echoes of the building's past with the voices of the local schoolchildren that the company collaborated with to make this project, and is an effective and necessary underscoring. Although there are still many gaps in this production, which is presented in a style that at times risks slipping into the patronising, there are many moments when, as an adult moving through the space, one becomes wrapped up in wonder and stitched through with happiness. A very charming, innovative and often funny piece of children's theatre.

Presenting Artists

27 Belfast Road

Date Seen
  1. Jun 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-3
p. 20 - 21