Where The White Stops

Thu 1st – Sun 25th August 2013

reviews

Imogen O'Sullivan

at 20:10 on 21st Aug 2013

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With ‘Where the White Stops’, the burgeoning ANTLER Theatre have devised a quirky and enchanting adventure through an Arctic landscape – touching and heartfelt whilst always charmingly funny.

This piece showcases some imaginative direction from Richard Perryman; welcoming an audience with open arms into this sense of makeshift, travelling theatre with an ingenious use of confetti and string. The physical sequences are powerful and inspired, whilst remaining well integrated into the action – the first visual that really enchanted me was the blizzard beautifully created by atmospheric singing and the shaking of Crab’s clothes by the rest of the ensemble. Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart is magnetic throughout her performance, her facial expressions perfectly embodying Crab’s wide-eyed and curious longing to cross the white, and to find a world different from her own. However, despite a number of stellar individual performances, where ANTLER really shine is with their creative ensemble work.

Seth Rook-Williams’ lighting design is subtly brilliant in its nuances, creating evocative shifts from dim interior to the blinding brightness of the white. Live music is also used to great effect, with the ensemble harmonies swallowing up the space, warming the audience through the stark landscape. Crab and her brother (Daniel Ainsworth) singing a child’s rhyme about not being scared is beautifully uplifting, and, as their voices blend, the hairs on the back of my neck are trembling.

Daniela Pasquini excels in both of her major roles, showing a great sense of character, particularly in imbuing her narrator with distinct personal quirks. The sense of humour is simple and charming – best illustrated by Nasi Voustas hiding in his fur coat - which awards ‘Where the White Stops’ with an intriguing sense of being a childrens’ show for adults. The lurking mask of the Beast adds a fantastic nightmarish quality, but the plot of the monster is left feeling unfinished.

‘Where the White Stops’ is overflowing with an enchanting magic that makes me wish more of an attempt had been made to market the show at children. I was entirely enthralled from beginning to end by the heartfelt character portrayals, particularly Woodcock-Stewart’s. ANTLER theatre spark with imagination and originality and they succeeded in warming my cockles, despite the chill of the white.

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Natasha Hyman

at 10:16 on 22nd Aug 2013

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‘Where The White Stops’ is one of those indescribable plays which you just have to see to appreciate. ANTLER has been nominated for best ensemble by The Stage, and it’s easy to see why; the four actors (Daniel Ainsworth, Daniela Pasquini, Nasi Voustas and Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart) seamlessly weave their performances together to produce an intricate story, which tracks the adventures of Crab in her journey through “the white” to look for where it stops.

The playful, childish enthusiasm of the group is infectious, and I find myself instantly energised by the performance. They begin by demonstrating Crab’s battle against the elements; flapping her clothes around her wildly, and singing in folk-infused harmonies, Pasquini, Ainsworth and Voustas seem to gel together to form the backdrop to Crab’s struggles - portrayed by Woodcock-Stewart completely convincingly. It was the tiny creative touches in this production which made it special; for example, Voustas ‘lit’ a stage light with the aid of sound effects.

The acting of all four was consistently naturalistic. Pasquini as the wizened Carpenter was a stand-out performance. Later, as King Soft Face’s bound bride-to-be, she countered Ainsworth’s exaggeratedly camp entrance with a face of genuine terror, instantly transforming King Soft Face into a very real menace. Voustas, as the silent and socially inept Wodo, displayed impressive physical subtlety. One particularly touching moment was where he helped Narwhal (Ainsworth) confront his fear of looking at “the white” by drawing his eye contact slowly towards the floor.

This show would do better in a more characterful space. The use of costumes and props did help to create a sense of setting. However, it would have helped foster the atmosphere of the piece had we not been in a damp studio with the sounds of other productions blaring through. The other major problem I had with the piece was that I felt it should market itself as a childrens’ show. The actors continually undermined each other as performers in the style of childrens’ theatre; this jarred somewhat with the content, which often made attempts to be philosophical.

The best aspect of the piece was how aesthetically pleasing it was; visible scene changes were slick, and the use of torches for lighting tools was a particularly effective technique. Overall, this is a stunning piece of theatre and one that I would happily see again.

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