Writer: Lizzie Nunnery
Director: Hannah Tyrell-Pinder
Reviewer: Katherine Kirwin
Box of Tricks, the Manchester-based new-writing focused theatre company, have combined forces with Lizzie Nunnery to create this enchanting emotional memory play. We are introduced to 90-year-old Liverpudlian Jim who has fallen in his home and cannot find the strength to stand, while the ghosts and memories of his past begin to force their way into his reality.
Jim’s memories introduce us to his wartime sweetheart, Else, a free-spirited Norwegian schoolteacher he met While working on a trawler before the war. His idealistic love for the memory of her burns throughout his life in WWII as a radio operator, which leads to a powerful and intimate friendship with the other operator, Kenny. Narvik is a strong ensemble piece spearheaded by a charming performance by Joe Shipman who convincingly transforms from young Jim to old, physically and vocally. Nina Yndis as Else is entrancing and swings between bold and energetic to thoughtful and loving with ease. It is easy to see why Jim holds onto her picture throughout the war.
The memories flow and twist around the steel shell of a stage, bridged beautifully by the actor-musicians using electronic music, haunting folk songs and percussion on the steel-framed stage. The use of music is most affecting as it twists the emotions home that lay beneath the words unspoken between characters, or bridged the gap between their lack of communication. It is poignant to use music so heavily, as it is said that music is one of the last memories that we lose in old age.
There are some haunting and powerful moments in this play when the horror of war is brought home through the reality of one working-class Liverpudlian’s experiences; particularly an explosive moment on the ship. Narvik captures the personal horrors that come rising to the surface of memory in old age and need to be exorcised through storytelling. An enchanting, affecting evening of theatre.
Runs until 4 February 2017 | Image: Decoy Media