EFR - Reviews of A Stone's Throw

A Stone's Throw

Sat 13th August 2011

reviews

Rhiannon Kelly

at 22:44 on 14th Aug 2011

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This enchanting young company bring the magic of storytelling to life. Armed with a stimulating array of props, puppets, music and song, ‘A Stone’s Throw’ is a simple children’s tale about a girl who accidentally knocked the sun out of the sky and we follow her quest to put the pieces back together.

The troupe narrate the story in such a wide-eyed engaging manner that it is impossible not to be captivated throughout. The stage is initially scattered with an array of cardboard boxes, the cast jumping out of them with bundles of infectious enthusiasm; a delightful start to a Sunday morning. The actors retell the story using a variety of techniques. Though simply executed, the recurring shadow puppetry goes down a treat, as I overhear the boy next to me whisper, “how do they do that?” in wonder. The exotic locations that the girl visits are wonderfully depicted with homemade props; I especially enjoyed the hot air balloon fashioned out of red umbrellas, and the cardboard ocean with the comical sea monster is both effective and entertaining. Music is also used successfully to help create atmosphere, but the sound effects are occasionally jarring in such an intimate space.

The cameo roles that each of the actors take on are comical and inventive, the lighthouse woman (with a stripy apron and telescope) and the giant sloth are particularly well characterised. As the production was so prop-heavy, this meant that some of the scene changes felt clumsy, and the space became (occasionally) too cluttered for so many objects and half a dozen actors. But when it worked well, it was a visual delight.

The end of the performance is well wrapped up, with a comical punch line that left a smile on everyone’s face. However, I didn’t quite understand the unnatural bows and affected thanking at the end. Up until then, the performers had been charming and down-to-earth. I guess they wanted to keep up their characters, but it would have worked better if they were more genuine.

Even though it does touch on environmental issues, ‘A Stone’s Throw’ is more visually stimulating than anything else, and I would recommend this show to families and children looking for a light, entertaining morning.

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sophie ainscough

at 11:39 on 15th Aug 2011

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Winner of student theatre at Glasgow’s ‘New Works’ festival, A Stone’s Throw Away is a well devised, beautifully told story, delivering a spell-binding performance. The Fringe guide pitches it as a performance for five year olds and over, although the charming nature of this story is sure to also capture adults’ imaginations.

It tells the tale of a young girl, a character who is both plucky and determined, performed by Izzie Sharman. With seven elder brothers she is obscured by their seven long shadows, that is until a fateful stone’s throw accidently plunges the earth into a state of perpetual darkness. Thus she sets out on a quest to restore the sun to her light deprived world. The plot is conveyed in an effective combination of shadow puppetry and acting. A sense of enchantment is felt in the transformation from shadow to living figure as the story smoothly continues. These changeovers are not always as fluid as the plot, however, and moments of exchange between actors and shadow puppets did have the tendency to feel a little delayed.

Props are used admirably, a moon bird floating gracefully amidst the audience and a red hot air balloon becoming a street vendor’s wares in an imaginative and economical transformation of use. The music also nicely compliments the dreamy, fantastical unreality of the play. This could have been delivered more wholly however, and there were moments of incongruity. The brief use of physical theatre saw the actors too dispersed, lacking the elegance and tight coherence needed at that moment in the play. The opening scene with characters bursting barefoot out of boxes also felt a little out of place. Although it distinguished the act of story-telling and allowed for wider reference to the audience and location – “smells like Edinburgh” – I would have preferred a complete immersion in and adherence to the theme of light and darkness, children and mystical creatures. More could have been made too of the triumphant finale of the sun’s return, something which was rather too quickly skirted over.

The collaborative conception of the piece between cast and directors is evident in the smooth role changes and collective sense of enthusiasm for the conveyance of the story. Uniquely individual touches, such as the scrabble letters (proclaimed as a safer post dinner tradition than stone throwing) spelled out “the end” in true fairy tale fashion. Enchantingly captivating, A Stone’s Throw Away brings the sun within reach of a courageous little girl, encountering pirates, a giant sloth and a sea monster in an adventure to retrieve the shattered shards of sun.

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