Director: Alex Byrne
New International Encounters have been regular visitors to the Unity and the premise of the show an interesting one. A doomed journey to the North Pole! They have garnered a very good reputation locally, unfortunately North, North, North does very little to warrant this acclaim.
This 75minute one-act show based around the true story of a deadly misadventure involving three Swedish explorers attempting to fly to the North Pole. The show however lacks all the aforementioned danger… One paced, entirely based on exposition and worst of all for a company who pride themselves on the visual nature of their work, lacked invention, production values and suffers from the use of terrible projection.
The transformations of scenes using objects on the whole are fine and if truth be told rather standard fare in this type of work, but there lacked any skill in the animation of the object, instead we watch three performers move various props around from one location to another. This production would have been innovative 20 years ago, but sadly all the techniques on show are as old as the hills.
The fundamental flaw of the production is the treatment of the material and how to present it; the actors were all very charming and clearly talented, but they are reliant on a script which simply lists facts, real and imagined. We are simply told the events and not shown them in any meaningful way, there is no real attempt to humanise these individuals, what really drove this band of brothers? There is no sense of peril or anger at their situation, instead we have three actors attempting to clown… a gurn here and a gurn there, simply isn’t it funny! Women playing men with the aid of a moustache, hilarious! And hence as an audience we simply don’t care about these men and that does a disservice to their tragic story.
However there are some moments within it which are theatrically rich! The drinking of wine in a storm, blown into the face of one of the explorers by the aid of a leaf blower, the shaking of gloves to create the sound effect of a pigeon flying, but sadly these are mere moments in what was an otherwise stuffy evening.
North, North, North is a show by the numbers; claim the space pre-show by offering the audience coffee and biscuits, a pointless moment of dragging an audience member up to no effect, the transformation of location to location, the charming rustic DIY aesthetic – it almost reads like a check list and unfortunately delivers the exact thing. As Martin Bonger exclaimed in one of his many addresses to the audience – we were promised an evening of physical theatre techniques, instead what we got was an evening of well-worn techniques performed badly and with no imagination.
Reviewed on 18th March 2014