EFR - Reviews of Lies My Garden Told Me

Lies My Garden Told Me

Thu 8th – Fri 23rd August 2013

reviews

Victoria Ibbett

at 03:13 on 15th Aug 2013

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“Have you heard the one about the fly inside the melodramatic spider inside the bird that can’t fly?” ‘Lies My Garden Told Me’ is a one-woman ‘comedic story show’ about a girl, a bird, a spider and a fly that concludes with a ‘carpe deim’ moral, worthy of an Aesop fable. Fleur Alexander is a tremendous story-teller and a natural, energetic performer but this is not :a little story for big people", as the show is billed; it is a show for children and should be approached as such.

‘Lies My Garden Told Me’ is a simple tale superbly told. Alexander combines physical theatre, mime and stand-up to convincingly create a whole outdoor world out of an empty stage-space. Whether she was climbing a tree, throwing a log across the garden, or trapped in a glass jar, Alexander’s talent is such that the stage space never felt empty.

An essential tenet of her talent is her knack for bringing the audience into the performance. Rather than remaining passive witnesses, Alexander had us tell the story with her: one individual was employed to look after an imaginary bird for twenty minutes, and at points all the spectators were brought in to provide an a cappella soundtrack. This was charming, for the most part, but did initially err towards the bewildering, such as when Alexander opened proceedings by imitating a water cooler and serving water to audience members from a bottle strapped to her head. Luckily, the performance improved significantly from here on.

It is a testament to Alexander’s talent that I frequently discovered myself genuinely transported by her production, albeit in a manner that smacked of juvenility. This is a show that kids could not fail to adore, and in this capacity it lives up to its billing as "playful, honest and uplifting". But as I am no longer a pre-pubescent I did find ‘Lies My Garden Told Me’ tiring by the end: it was too long and too simple, despite Alexander’s obvious flair.

If Alexander were to admit that this is a kids' show and advertise as such, this show would deserve a higher rating. As it is, I must speak as an adult and say that it did not live up to its billing. But if you have kids, this show is unmissable.

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Ben Williams

at 04:32 on 15th Aug 2013

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0disagrees

Fleur Alexander’s self-written, one-woman comedy ‘Lies My Garden Told Me’ is described as "playful, honest and uplifting", and despite some misgivings, the play ultimately fulfils each of these criteria. The audience was taken through the story of Alexander’s discover of creatures in her garden and how they interacted with each other and the world around them.

The show’s greatest success was Alexander herself. For almost an entire hour she delivered a truly high-energy performance. If you were expecting a rather mundane stand-up show about garden mishaps, you would be sorely mistaken. Alexander leapt, ran and crawled her way through this demanding piece with such commitment that the audience was compelled to watch her every move.

Her characterisation was similarly impressive. The script demanded that she portray a bird, a spider and a fly as well as her main human character, and her command of physicality and vocal range achieved this well. The audience participation was also effective and Alexander’s professionalism ensured that we were all singing the Chariots of Fire theme tune (in three parts), whilst she acted out the final scene in slow-motion without a second thought.

However, the piece also suffered from a couple of serious failings. The introductory act, which saw Alexander dressed as a water cooler, was clearly intended as an ice-breaker, although it simply left many audience members feeling awkward. Much of the content was also off the mark, with silly being a far more appropriate adjective than funny or comic.

What is more is that, despite Alexander’s best efforts, the show did become a little stayed after the audience realised the eventual message some ten or fifteen minutes before the end. The overriding plot arch works well with its story format, although an hour was perhaps a little too much space, especially when the final punchline became clear relatively early on.

Yet the biggest flaw of all was with the marketing of the play. The piece could be incredibly effective as a piece of children's theatre. In fact, with its make-every-day-an-adventure moral, the piece would transition very well. In its current state, however, the show loses some of the appeal brought in by Alexander herself due to its childish nature.

However, you should certainly not let these misgivings deter you from seeing Alexander in action. I would simply suggest that the show suits a family audience, and anyone particularly in tune with their inner-child.

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