Souvenirs is a gorgeous piece of child-like theatre; it evolves, slowly, surely and playfully, explores new territories and innovative ways of using props. Centering around sentimentality without being sickly, Souvenirs combines beautiful writing with stunning music and creates a delicate circus of a story.
Three children gather on stage, a gurgling heap of cardboard boxes and everyday rubbish. They discover a fourth child who, to join their hearty crew, must prove herself by stealing something from the elusive birdman who lives in a house made of rubbish. Souvenirs starts from objects that are seemingly bits of rubbish, yet each one holds meaning and is used cleverly to develop the plot. Its thin sarcasm and intelligent thought process prevent the piece from becomingly too childish, as it stands it is an atmospheric delight of theatre that is swims beyond and around its fairytale schema.
Occasionally the piece jolts and the actors’ choreography is messy, and it needs slight refinement to make it utterly seamless. Overall, it is a beautiful piece of work; it runs like one long dance, scarves weaving in and out, with moments of joy and sadness. The depiction of the birdman’s alcoholic mother is particularly moving, both in writing and choreography. Bottles follow her to her swirling self-destruction, all is implied and none is overbearingly shoved.
As if controlled by puppet strings, the cast look back to the past and swerve easily into the present. As in all good fairytales, the denouement is neat and lingering, leaving you with an overarching moral and even a box of jammy dodgers. The live music cannot be overstated. Michael Chidgey is the puppeteer, playing a careful balancing act between guitar , keyboards and recorder he gently nudges the piece onwards and upwards, he brings everything together. A beautiful performance, Souvenirs is a wonderful construction and an utterly worthwhile watch.
Souvenirs is playing at ZOO (Venue 124) until August 22 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Fringe website.