Elmwood Normal School Auditorium, Christchurch

04/11/2020 - 06/11/2020

Production Details

Between A Clown and A Dark Place uses physical and shadow theatre to explore the role fear plays throughout our lives, and the anxieties we share as a society.

Elmwood Normal School Auditorium, Christchurch  
Wednesday 4th to Friday 6th November 2020

Elmwood Normal School Auditorium, Christchurch  
Wednesday 4th to Friday 6th November 2020

Theatre , Physical ,

Entertaining and sincere engagement with fear

Review by Lindsay Clark 05th Nov 2020

This enterprising hour of physical and shadow theatre is the latest collaboration of the eleven-strong Hwyl Theatre company, blending the antics of a traditional clown with strong group movement and an occasional shadow screen. 

The questions posed by the work – What is the nature of fear and how should we deal with it? – are daunting and, frankly, difficult to explore, given the resources and time frame available. There is, however, no shortage of commitment and energy as the piece develops and enthusiastic applause from a well-satisfied audience confirms their approval of an engaging work.

At first, there is just Nic Chappell as an expressive clown, establishing  herself smartly as a friendly, joyful presence. As the mood darkens, the whole company shares the performance space with various individuals explaining their first encountered fears, which are then amplified and responded to by movement sequences involving the whole group. The common thread is loneliness in the face of perceived danger, an idea echoed by the clown, whose frequent reappearance and interaction with the performers holds things together effectively. 

A strong feature of the piece is the ability of the company to switch from individual contributions to single shapes like human knots, involving everyone. In either mode, the work is always interesting and, as the clown breaks through the ranks, frequently funny.

A recurring image on the shadow screen shows the perky clown confronted by a huge looming presence, from which she flees. As a metaphor for the way fear is often experienced and as a way of cementing the central idea of the show, the simple action is most successful.

Eventually, joyful play prevails as the clown is joined by all eleven red-nosed, happily waving figures. The message to find a way out of fears by relating cheerfully to others rounds out a performance that is both entertaining and sincere.


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