Hamelin: the Last Child

Tue 6th – Sat 10th August 2013

reviews

Ashley Chhibber

at 03:09 on 7th Aug 2013

0agrees

0disagrees

Working from the starting point of the Pied Piper story, this production goes on to deal more generally with issues of child death or abduction, in a sensitive and varied piece with an interesting tripartite structure.

There were a few issues with volume from the start: speech was often drowned out by the instruments; yet this was only a problem during the first half. This first act was fantastically scored, with a wonderfully dark aesthetic that matched the theme perfectly; the songs were hugely enjoyable and powerfully performed. Robert Forrest’s electric fiddle added an element not often found in rock, or indeed in retellings of the Pied Piper, and added greatly to the overall auditory experience. Naomi Finlayson’s singing voice has great range: as the Piper it was a deep, rich rock voice, but she later hit the high notes with equal ease. Indeed, as an ensemble the cast worked very well together; the harmonies were always strong.

The second act was a complete break from the first, the only unifying element being the theme of disappearing children. In this section, actors explored tragic incidents through the medium of poetry, occasionally matched by actions – particularly notable and powerful was a scene depicting child soldiers, silent but for the sound of marching – but usually without instrumental accompaniment. These incidents varied from tsunamis through the holocaust and child trafficking to a poem about a miscarried foetus. Particularly considering the relative youth of the writers/performers, these topics were well chosen and dealt with sensitively.

The final third of the play looks at the child left behind in Hamelin, played by Joey Lawrence. The song about being the last child was sung very well by Finlayson and Hannah Craig as his shadows, although it would have been nice for Lawrence to join in. This act deals with isolation and abandonment, and reminds us that tragedy affects most keenly those left behind; yet another perceptive take.

The actors excel at physical theatre, which was particularly impressive when accompanied by on-screen videos matching the objects being acted out. The choice to dress all performers equally in black rather than assigning clear roles, creating an anonymous chorus, was very effective: it emphasised that the death or disappearance of a child is always a matter of community; this was again accentuated by the projection in the final scene of the numbers of dead or missing children associated with each incident explored in Act Two, a moving touch.

Sometimes the acting did not quite hit the mark, or was overshadowed by technical issues, but the combination of good music and the exploration of powerful issues ensured I nevertheless took something away from this production.

agree
disagree

Shirley Halse

at 09:50 on 7th Aug 2013

0agrees

0disagrees

This is a show which feels like a work in progress. It is described as an ‘abstract’ re-imagining but, sadly, IT often just seems piecemeal and disconnected. The tale of the Pied Piper (a fiddler in this production) is one known by most people and, in theory, this is a version of the story with added modern elements. The actors, aged between 13 and 19, on microphones, start asking the mayor of Hamelin what happened to the children, but no one seems to have any answers.

Correction: I assume no one had any answers from the disappointed looks of the actors, as it was almost impossible to hear what anyone was saying. It was very impressive that the show had a live band, especially as they were young musicians, but on the technical side it provided great difficulties. Much of the dialogue was drowned, and during the songs it seemed as though everyone was competing for audio supremacy. The policy of ‘let’s be as loud as possible’ was redeemed by the fact that the music was quite good. The band were talented and the actors proved to be quite good singers, particularly the Mayor and Pied Piper.

It may have been the audio difficulties but there didn’t seem to be much explanation for why the retelling of the Pied Piper suddenly segued into poetry about drink driving and a scene about the Holocaust. The poetry was surprisingly good but it seemed to come out of nowhere. My theory (when I tried to make sense of the story afterwards) is that they were trying to demonstrate the wide-spread suffering and/or disappearance of children throughout history. However, I’m not sure if they were ultimately saying that the Piper had saved them from these worldly ills or was merely an early example of it.

It is very difficult to rate a show like this. The actors performed quite well, and sang better. I hardly think I could have written any sort of music at that age (or even now), let alone a play’s worth. It was fairly nonsensical in the middle but had some very good bits – the music, the poetry, and the singing. For a young, student production it was fairly impressive, but, sadly, it is not as polished or cohesive as many other plays in the context of the Fringe.

agree
disagree

Audience Avg.

0 votes, 0 comments

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a