Theatre in Wales

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ROBINSON CRUSOE AS YOU MAY OR MAY NOT KNOW HIM!

Robinson – The Other Island

Give it a Name , Chapter , May-09-19
Robinson – The Other Island by Give it a Name Always innovative, director Mathilde Lopez has based her script drawing on both Daniel Defoe’s iconic Robinson Crusoe and The Other Island by Michel Tournier. She also introduces us to ASMR.

ASMR – Autonomous sensory meridian response; The actor, Luciana Trapman, playing Bianca, our narrator, also lost on her own isolated island, uses this whispering technique very effectively as she quietly takes us into the details of Robinson’s adventures on the island. These activities are extravagantly and magnificently played out for us by the commanding performance of superb actor John Rowley.

Bianca sits reading, in her isolation in the middle of the green baized covered stage that stretches like a boat down the middle of the theatre with the audience sitting on either side. Robinson, in his 17th century frock coat, dashes up and down away from this main stage, sometimes hiding in the black depths of the theatre – but never for long.

From her position in the centre of the stage, always with her compelling whisper, Trapman tells us of Robinson’s ventures further into the island’s forests. He finds the people who live there and soon he is in the slave trade. It is to the great credit of both these highly watchable performers that we often see in our minds eye the activities Robinson is involved in. It is when he gets into the flora of the island things really take off. Particularly as he strives to observe in detail the pollination processes of the island’s many plants. He develops a special tree that makes an interesting contribution to his comfort on the island.

For a while we leave Robinson and get back to Bianca’s isolation in her modern world where she is struggling helplessly to get settled into her new flat. There’s a problem with the skirting boards. She phones her father for help but he just doesn’t want to know. Cleary he has little or no feelings for her at all. Trapman moves so wonderfully seamlessly from the compelling whispering narrator to fretting flat dweller. We leave her in a terrible state as she tries, pretty unsuccessfully, to get her head around the instructions for fitting a tap. Again dad refuses to help.

Things are looking up for Robinson, he sees a boat on the horizon and he desperately tries to get its attention. Eventually a small, unmanned boat settles on the shore. We get some extraordinary physical acting from Rowley as he tries to work out a way to get it across the sand.

The couple of hours are ‘littered’ with many moments of magic and delight. All the time coming through our earphones, which also give us many other sounds and even sounds of very curious chattering that seems to interrupt the performance. We are told these mumblings are, very effectively, performed by The Book Clubbers. They do add an edge and a touch more mystery to this excellent and very engaging performance.

There is even more magic provided by the splendid technical team giving enthusiastic support and finesse to this splendidly staged production.

The production tours to: Volcano’s Theatre, Swansea – Galeri, Caernarvon and Y Llwyfan Carmarthen

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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