If Mowgli could walk with the animals then Paul doesn't see why he can't actually turn into an animal in this succinct adaptation by Douglas Maxwell of John LeVert's Flight of the Cassowary for Vanishing Point. After all, Paul's biology teacher keeps on saying that all animals, including humans, share the same basic genetic makeup.
In the troubled fifth year at secondary school there is enough going on in Paul's life for him to become increasingly stressed. As his teachers, Karen
- the girl who he fancies, the bullying suffered by his best mate, Jerry, and Paul's own performance in goal for the school football team all build up the pressure, so he begins to be able to metamorphose at will - into which ever animal he wants.
In what is a thoroughly satisfying and commanding performance, Paul J Corrigan (Paul) succeeds in turning Maxwell's monologue into a rich examination of teenage boyhood. Not only is he able to control the stage to the point where you believe his strange ideas, but is also quite comfortable in creating the angst, paranoia and selfishness of teenage existence.
He is helped by two equally strong - and intensely physical - performances from Sandy Grierson and Claire Lamont. Between them, they create the various characters who inhabit Paul's life. While their fragments of dialogue just drop into Paul's recollections without disturbing the flow, their physical presence creates something from which Corrigan can begin to create a world beyond Kai Fischer's simple and atmospheric set.
It is a combination which director Matthew Lenton uses to startling effect. At times, such as when Paul and Karen try to kiss, it comes so close to the truth of teenage life, as to be almost impossible to watch.
But the real success is in weaving the story with such thoroughness that by the end you are not able to tell whether Paul really can turn into an animal at will, or whether he merely thinks he can. And by catching you up so thoroughly in both the specific instances and the outright fantasy, the whole production manages to create a piece of theatre which is not just about one individual, but about the state of being a teenager itself.
- Thom Dibdin (reviewed at at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh)