Where: Inner London
18 November 2011 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Ovalhouse’s Lady-led season continues apace with another lyrical, water based production. Taniwha Thames carries a mythical sea creature from New Zealand deep into the flow of the River Thames and onto the stage. Under the direction of Stella Duffy, members of Shaky Isles Theatre have written and devised a piece in which the themes of belonging and home are drawn out using an Open Space approach and Maori mythology. The production unfortunately suffers from this unstructured approach and it becomes insular and tepid.
Duffy opens the show by inviting audience members to partake in a toast with a shot of “Thames water” to remind us that “we’re all in it together.” The set, draped in two sail white sheets then welcomes the arrival of the Taniwha in the 1800s. It submerges itself into the Thames and pulsates through the lives of a group of Londoners. These newly arrived citizens grapple with the idea of home, belonging and the pull of a city that encapsulates the world. Some settle, others leave but the mythological creature remains a fluid presence in their movement and dialogue.
Barefoot and dressed in earthy tones, the cast combine song, dance and physical theatre to create a series of scenes which explore these universal themes. There are elements of the piece which do impress upon the audience, the lecherous insect-like creature created by the conjoined
Connie Brice and Ella Becroft is one example, but the scenes appear to drown in their own fluidity and that initial connection with the audience is lost.
Whilst, it’s clear that the Open Space approach of the production has allowed members of Shaky Isles to explore the creative process, the end result suffers from this loss of structure and focus.
Taniwha Thameshas all the appearance of a work in progress and lacks any real impetus. The company has unfortunately failed to draw in the audience and it’s a shame.
- Amardeep Sohi
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