"A fairy tale in Camden"
by Ellie Dawes for remotegoat on 08/09/11

Theatre Collection use physical theatre and dance in a bare studio space to tell the story of Ibsen's Peer Gynt like a fairy tale. There was some skilful physical theatre, the highlight for me was when all the actors came together to create the Troll king, simple techniques like using another actor's hands as his own meant the central figure was able to represent an otherworldly creature in a really effective way.

I also loved the dark comedy when Peer came across what appeared to be an asylum in Egypt. Sebastian Canciglia as the raving Egyptian introducing the madmen was brilliantly comic and disturbing.

There was scarcely much of Ibsen's epic play remaining which meant that from the start the piece was very fast-paced. This meant that as I didn't know the play very well I felt a little confused about what the bigger questions of the text were and what it was saying. After seeing Ibsen's Emporer and Galilean at The National where you come away thinking about the human condition, religion and our place in the world, I found it a little difficult to adjust to taking Peer Gynt more as a simple fairy tale. However as the play is very narrative and there was a narrator figure guiding us through the plot was not difficult to follow.

The fast pace made the play into a series of strange visions, rather like being in someone else's dream which was complemented by the live music and interesting instruments the cast used. This was really clever and helped create the traditional story telling atmosphere.

There was also some lovely singing particularly the refrain from Nicola Fox playing Peer's love Solveig who waits for him and grows old as he travels the world.

Oliver Hollis-Leick played Peer Gynt very convincingly both as a young and impulsive dreamer and later as a more reflective older man. His charismatic and naive charm made him the ideal central fairytale hero, which was in ironic contrast to his flawed actions.

Don't go to see this to see Ibsen, go to see a slice of traditional skilful storytelling and you will enjoy it immensely.

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