Monday, February 02, 2009

"Dolls" - January 2009

We'd debated whether to book up for this production of 'Dolls' that's emerged from the National Theatre of Scotland Workshop programme. In conjunction with Hush Productions and Tramway they've adapted the Japanese film of the same name by Takeshi Kitano into a theatrical piece. We weren't sure if it was really going to be our cup of tea, but decided that it was worth a try. However even sitting in the bar area beforehand I said to Statler that this would have to be not just good but something more than that to grab me after a long week at work. Fortunately it was.

Over the course of 90 minutes we span 35 years in three separate tales of love that are interwoven in their telling, but only minimally in their content. Visually stunning at times with strong imagery; the stories, although captivating, are almost secondary to the look, sound and style of this production. Director Carrie Cracknell has woven together different story telling techniques to make the piece come to life. For instance the story of Jacob and Ruth is almost entirely unspoken and told largely through dance and movement - and no less moving for it. We also have a live band, Zoey Van Goey (accompanied by David Paul Jones), in one corner who not only provide musical accompaniment throughout but take a role in one tale. That's not to say that 'conventional' theatre takes a back seat with strong performances from the ensemble.

Having not seen the film that was its source, I can't say how much of this is original and how much harks back to the film. It has obviously, in some aspects, been translated in time and place from its Japanese inspiration. It does however stand on its own. My one concern is that it was made clear in the post show discussion that they considered it still under development. I hope that in doing the fine tuning it doesn't lose its sense of wonder and magic. The perfect end to a very strong month of Scottish theatre.

Image by Eamonn McGoldrick. Used with permission.

1 Heckle

Anonymous said...

I cant help thinking that I would be reading a completely different review if you HAD seen the film.The depth of emotion and clarity in the narratives in the film were completely absent in the production. The physical elements were good, live music is always a good idea even though it went on a bit too long. Thank goodness it is a work in progress as there is quite a bit of work still needing to be done here.