The publicity material for, and indeed the title of, A Thousand Slimy Things leads you to expect a gothic, but comic, tale for youngsters aged nine and upwards. Actually Sally Siner’s adaptation of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner makes few concessions for the age or attention span of the target audience.
The source material is dramatised but in no way trivialised. The result is a powerful cautionary tale reminding youngsters of the need to be aware of the consequences of actions and to discuss, rather than repress, any concerns or feelings of guilt.
Director Lewis Gibson sets a surprisingly dark mood for the tale getting excellent effects from Richard Owen’s flexible and responsive lighting. The audience is expected to use their imagination to make a wheeled table gilding around the stage become a ship. Gibson has also composes the music and it is not the sing-a-long tunes to which youngsters may be accustomed from visits to pantos. Played live by Christopher Preece - the atmospheric score moves the scenes seamlessly from wedding to stormy weather and later becalmed sea drawing out the growing sense of danger and even dread.
Rather than deliver the poem as a monologue the tale is divided between Gary Lagden and Darren Lawrence. The use of two actors widens the scope of the tale from a personal viewpoint to remind us that the actions of one person can affect many. The poem is beautifully spoken especially by the guilt-ridden Lawrence. Together the actors are able to involve the young audience in a tale that is certainly demanding of concentration. Before the show starts they create an 'it’s behind you!' mood by directing the moving table behind which they are seated towards the audience as if it is a Dalek. The occasional touch of humour from the cast is very welcome in such a dark tale.
A Thousand Slimy Things is a highly imaginative and respectful adaptation that makes a classic tale relevant to a younger audience. It sure to delight students of Coleridge and will make demands of audiences who may be complacent and accustomed to productions requiring only limited concentration.
- Dave Cunningham