Eye of the Storm – The King’s Theatre

Writer & Director: Geinor Styles

Music & Lyrics: Amy Wadge

There’s fascination over storms, an unparalleled force of nature. Harnessing its capabilities could provide answers to issues of global warming and fossil fuel usage. As Greta Thunberg rallies thousands of strikes, walkouts and peaceful demonstrations across the globe – Geinor Styles’ Eye of the Storm places environmentalism as the casing of her story concerning a young carer who has dreams as colossal as the task of fixing this world.

Just off the green valleys of South Wales, Emmie is the primary carer for her mother, Angela. Struggling to balance school, her family and homework, Emmie has ambitions in studying storms, figuring out their anatomy. Rosey Cale is hypnotic in terms of her vocals, which command attention in her control, range and projection. Emmie is young, capable but Cale captures the fragmentary moments where even the strongest of us struggle.

The potential for an insightful production on often forgotten communities, focusing on the lives of young carers and their dreams is staggeringly vital theatre. Comprising multiple workshops with young carers, Eye of the Storm is a composite of their feelings, hopes and frustrations whipping into a colourful, musical frenzy. Theatr na nóg offers their story – yet not only theirs, but to shine a light on the talents of Welsh theatre, something all too relegated to the South of the nation.

Concerning Amy Wadge’s lyricism, many of the numbers have a regrettable similarity, though the duet between sisters Emmie and Karen is wrought with powerful subtext and balanced vocals. The live band, are on form, smoothly transitioning between instrumental to the acting role.

In the role of half-sister Karen, it’s easy to vilify the relation who isn’t providing care, instead, working on their own life, but Caitlin McKee maintains an identifiable presence, conveying the pressure of realising she needs to do more but worries she can’t. As the initial confrontations pass, McKee’s role extends in understanding these complex relationships usually criminally hidden or forgotten.

Suffering is Dan Bottomly’s Walt, the physics teacher who is in education for all the wrong reasons. Concerningly, what first appears to be a commentary on unengaging teachers, is instead left abandoned as a character who is difficult to read, has an odd ‘redemption’ arc and has strong vocals which are put to poor use. Style’s direction throws in curveballs for this character, in particular, we’re unsure of whether this misogynistic teacher who refuses to educate a young girl is a redeemable hero due to his closing actions, or just a bit of an arse.

Noteworthy in attempt, bringing the plight of climate change to the stage is a tremendously admirable cause, though a cautionary warning for the budding scientists in the audience – there’s less a stretch of dramatic imagination and more a hodgepodge of Wikipedia science.

Allow the rain to wash over you, let the wind ruffle your hair and open your eyes to the lives of the 700,000 young carers across the UK. Facing the problems of the world valiantly, Eye of the Storm rages itself headfirst into the oncoming tempest, failing to watch for the occasional pitfall. In attempting to promote a Welsh community, with an environmental message linking to the concerns of young carers, Style’s piece spreads itself thinly at the edges.

Review originally published for Reviews Hub: https://www.thereviewshub.com/eye-of-the-storm-the-kings-theatre-edinburgh/

WhirlyGig – Traverse Theatre

Created by Daniel Padden

Co-Produced with Red Bridge Arts and Catherine Wheels Co-Produced

In association with Catherine Wheels and Red Bridge Arts, Daniel Padden’s WhirlyGig lays bare the components of sound, how ridiculous it can be to play with, and the fun in how a single note can curve an entire composition. By tearing up the rulebook when it comes to orchestral arrangements, WhirlyGig suceeds in creating a wholly new sound through the slashing of score sheets, hops and jumps, taps and whistles.

WhirlyGig isn’t just a selection of noises, though: it’s an anatomy of music. Energy ripples throughout Padden’s composition, with its stiller moments allowing us to draw breath. Musicians Claire Willoughby, Rory Clark, Rory Haye and Sita Pieraccini play with a hoard of instruments, bottles, vocals and their bodies. Notable pieces include the four musicians synchronising in an impressive looped beat. The quartet play off one another – not only instrumentally, but in personality and comedic turns, showcasing how no two musicians have the same style, control, and, in some flawed circumstances, timing. Alison Brown’s vibrant costume design and Sergey Jakovsky’s subtle yet carnivalesque lighting add depth and charm to this production. 

As a whole, musical arrangements have no restrictions as to the age they inspire: pieces can strike anyone, at any age, at any time. WhirlyGig’s topsy-turvy vibrancy and playfulness with melody has the potential to capture young creative minds, and to rejuvenate a passion for a pure form of cobbled together music for anyone.

Review originally published for The Skinny: https://www.theskinny.co.uk/theatre/shows/reviews/whirlygig-traverse-theatre-edinburgh

Photo credit – CatherineWheels Theatre Company