Trestle Theatre Company & Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, The Soldier’s Tale & Goblin Market

Review in Issue 7-1 | Spring 1995

In contrast to earlier works such as State of Bewilderment, the opening to Trestle Theatre's latest production, The Soldier’s Tale, was disappointing to say the least. The tame and rather unimaginative revival of Stravinsky's work laboured along at a frustratingly turgid pace, and little attention was paid to the rhythms of a score incessantly interrupted by poor acting. Billing themselves as Britain's leading mask/mime theatre company, the company showed little of the excitement and ingenuity that has become the trademark of their work. Instead the initial use of mask, to set up a reality/fantasy opposition, seemed inappropriate as the original Russian tale was paralleled with that of a family suffering the trials of a repossession order. There was the occasional flash of theatrical vision as the performers attempted to jovially integrate with the musicians, converting a bassoon into a tap for pulling pints, but these were few and far between. Rather, the continual presence of the musicians onstage seemed at odds with Stravinsky's desire to mix artistic genres.

Based on Christina Rossetti's poem of the same title, Goblin Market was the company's attempt to incorporate mime, narration, puppetry and music into a single work. The puppetry, however, was unable to concretise the theatrical intensity of Rossetti's writing, and poor design meant that much of the work could not be seen clearly from the auditorium. An attempt at a twentieth century allusion to two young girls running away from home also failed to have any impact – the predominant reason being the two protagonists' amateurish rendition of melodramatic mime.

The one redeeming aspect of the evening was the music, the two pieces being superbly performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. It was just unfortunate that Trestle's desire for theatrical creativeness, daring and quality could not be made manifest on this occasion.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 1995

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-1
p. 22