What happens when we break boundaries and stray further than we ought to? Antler Theatre suggests that, though there may be consequences, the pay-off of adventure is worth it and the friends who we meet along the way will help us grow as individuals. Where the White Stops is a show about adventure and friendship, with a fresh mode of storytelling and an awkward humour which has the power to delight. It’s not got much substance, but it’s nonetheless charming.
Crab, a young girl not quite happy with the trappings of childhood life, decides to venture into the dark, cold, snowy ‘white’ of the title. Along the way, she meets a bunch of companions who help her, all the time trying to avoid the beast of legend.
Though the plot, with all its forbidden tundras and quirky companions, is a somewhat unoriginal one and doesn’t question much in and of itself, Antler Theatre manages to capture the imagination with an original mode of storytelling using simple lighting, ingenious physicality and surreal harmonies. A blizzard, for example, is evoked simply by shaking coat tails and scarves to the tune of chilling vocal arrangements.
The humour in Richard Perryman’s production is somewhat Pythonesque in its whimsy and awkwardness, with subtle looks to the side and bonkers characters who dress in nothing but trousers and an open trench coat. Woowdo (Nasi Voutsas) achieves characterisation through wide eyes and an expressive mouth, and has only one word in the entirety of the piece which he makes count; it’s one of the most tender moments in the show. The framing device which sees the four somewhat clueless narrators perform this story is never fully established, however, remaining underdeveloped and seemingly placed simply for laughs.
The four performers are on fine form, each pushing the others forward with energy and verve. Voutsas has a strange appeal as the silent companion, and Daniel Ainsworth counters him brilliant with mad and extroverted characters. Daniela Pasquini does a sterling job of playing an old woman without going too far, and injects just the right amount of mystery into her roles. Standing at the centre is Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart’s Crab, playful and innocent, embodying the idea the show so charmingly conveys: sometimes, in order to discover who we are, we have to break free out of our comfort zones.
Where the White Stops is at Underbelly, Cowgate until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.