Tiger Tale @ The Lilian Baylis Studio (Sadler’s Wells) Review

We walk down the steps, into the space and are instantly welcomed by what can only be described as a caged stage, roped fencing and orange fur cover the pathway, buckets strung up from the ceiling and present within the enclosure are three characters, everyone, masked with a bucket. The music plays and we begin to question the sense of absurdity, we take our seats within the ‘In the round’ style seating, analysing the simple movements and interaction of these characters. The lights go down and the show begins.

Barrowland Ballet

Tiger Tale is a ravishing production by Barrowland Ballet. It is a tale of adventure, love, growth and reality as nature and basic principle. It is a story of basic construct but one that proves the mantra ‘less is more’. It is a story you’ll find in countless movies, literature and theatre, the story of a normal family whose life is turned upside down when something ‘wild’ enters their life. In this case the wild is exciting, thrilling and often hysterical to interact with, but as an audience you always remember, once ‘the wild’ has been released things will never be the same again.

Tiger Tale is the collaboration between a writer and choreographer with a real emphasis on storytelling ability, not only through the medium of spoken word but dance, body and general physicalisation. As Tiger Tale is a show about interaction, childhood realities and imagination the atmosphere is highly jovial, fun and upbeat. Within the production there is a connotation of a multitude of themes which include love, self-development and growth. These are all explored within just 60 minutes of action, whilst giving the audience a real delight of dance sequences, creative embodiment and physical characterisation. Whilst watching the production it is evident that there is a real sense of care and thought for all audience members, presenting a real sense of enjoyment for both adults and children. Within the production there is an essence of inclusivity for all, with adults also entering into the journey, therefore immersive experience, often gathering thoughts that are indifferent from the children’s.

This immersive production is filled with laughter, excitement and wonder as you watch in amazement the creativity you cannot simply behold. Within this production there is unique ability to laugh, cry and feel free within a space and dance convention that is often restricted, elite and limited. Ballet in this instance is not simply an art form but a form of communication, an ability to converse and convey messages that simply would not be as exquisitely portrayed by speech or language. Dance within this production is the language, the conversation between actor and spectator, it is simply awe striking, and unbelievable to watch and develop. Barrowland Ballet have truly created a piece that is the embodiment of what a dance production should regard, convey and definitely should impact within their audiences and vast industry.

The performers as a unit or company are dazzling, portraying real emotion, empathy and appealing characters. Jade Adamson, who plays the role of the ‘child’ is magical within this part, bringing a lightness to the character that is relatable to any child or adult. Whereas, Kai Wen Chuang, plays the ‘mother’ beginning as a strict character, the hardest to breakdown for the free will of play, but when she does it is spellbinding. The interaction she portrays with her child is beautiful and the subtlety is magic. Lastly, but definitely not to be missed is Vince Virr the ‘dad’ within the dancers, he brings to life the animal and wild presence we so long to see and when he shows us it s defiant. The Tiger a realistic, jovial, mischievous character who’s every action is a disturbance and therefore a joy to watch for any audience member.

This production is truly unique in design, concept and direction; it is a production that is suitable for the whole family exploring the importance of connection, work-life balance and importance of spontaneity versus routine. It is a production where often the narrative is interpretative but you will always be engaged by a sense of creative presentation, colour and visual direction. Tiger Tale is a production of innovation, invention and awe striking creativity that develops a sense of inspiration. I leave this production with tender eyes from the amount of laughing, crying and open eyed staring I uphold within this production. I am amazed and inspired that work like this is there, visible and accessible to watch, it’s just getting there at the right time… 5/5

Review written by Meg Mattravers.

Tiger Tale was shown at the Lilian Baylis Studio (Sadler’s Wells) from Friday 23rd until Saturday 24th October. For more information on Barrowland Ballet, visit here…

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