Rime (tour – Cambridge)

Square Peg is one of those multi-disciplined companies which can fit very tidily into the roundest of holes – let alone theatre spaces.

Rime is loosely based on Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a narrative poem which exercises an uncanny fascination for theatre-makers in a number of different genres.

the cast
the cast
© Alistair Kerr

For my money, it helps your appreciation of this version if you know the poem – some small children at the Cambridge Junction performance I saw obviously didn't quite follow all the intricacies of the plot.

It was originally developed a couple of years ago at London's Roundhouse, but this re-cast staging of Tomos James and Tim Lenkiewicz' work has now launched on a national tour. Visually it's a stunning piece of theatre, marrying circus skills with song, dialogue, dance and mime as well as evocative costuming.

Jean-Daniel Broussé, Hege Eriksdatter-Ostefjells Antonio Harris, James, Lenkiewicz, Rosamund Martin, Nikki Rummer and Isabelle Schuster are the cast, with the most spectacular circus routines taken by the girls. Lise Marker is the designer with choreography by Martin Corri.

A sense of the other-worldly pervades it, reminding us that land-dwellers' relationship with the sea is never a straightforward business. So the albatross, thoughtlessly slaughtered, also stands for the death of innocence at many levels, including the human one. That fragile compact between earth, wood and water is always a fluid one.

There's a sense that the story of the raft of the Medusa with its terrible undercurrent of cannibalism some 20 years after Coleridge's poem was published has been incorporated into the story.

The dockyard and below-decks scenes are highly stylised and yet realistic; as the ship sets sail, the skills required of its crew parallel those of the performers themselves.

Rime tours nationally until 27 September.