Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Fahrenheit Twins - Unity Theatre, Liverpool

The Fahrenheit Twins
Director: Matthew Dunster
Reviewer: Kate Cotterell

It is unusual to see a story so slowly told and intricately crafted but Told by an Idiot’s Fahrenheit Twins, at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre until Saturday 24th October, is ninety minutes in which to completely lose yourself in the magic of theatre and the worlds that it can so simply and yet so distinctly create.

Having never read (or even heard of) the Michel Faber short story ‘The Fahrenheit Twins’, I had no preconceived ideas about what Told By An Idiot’s new touring piece might be about. The story is a simple one – two arctic explorers take off to study the mysterious Gooey Inouye tribe in their natural habitat, they leave with excitement and anticipation and their years in the icy wilderness, during which they bear two children (the twins of the title), learn much about their unusual subjects and fall out of love with each other. It is the twins, Tainta-lilith and Marco-caine, who are the real stars characters and their explosion onto the stage – climbing up the large snow slop in the middle of the set and sliding down with childlike joy and giddy laughter – can’t help but bring a smile to your face.

The performance is not filled with action or stand out moments of emotion or drama, it moves slowly and with purpose between each interesting and innocent moment of the children’s lives – as they learn about what lies beyond their home, kill foxes and grow trees and record all of their new understanding in their Book of Knowledge. A bath time story from their mother fills them with fear about the future and their sole purpose becomes stopping time, a quest that is punctuated by the ever present sound of the cuckoo clock and culminates in the death of their mother – the ultimate end of their childhood innocence. As they embark on a Hansel and Gretel style journey to reunite their mother with the Universe and find a final resting place for her their understanding of life, family and love changes – giving an interesting message about the loss of innocence that we must all face in the end.

The two actors, Paul Hunter and Hayley Carmichael, who play the 4 characters of Mother and Father and the Twins, do so beautifully – at times switching between the characters almost seamlessly and within moments. The brilliantly designed costumes add to this effect, but it is the physical portrayal of the characters by Hunter and Carmichael that is so expertly done and makes the four different characters so believable. The two actors also play the family dogs and the foxes that live on the periphery of the story – appearing at intervals to add moments of comedy and light relief, though after much deliberation I am still a bit baffled as to their real purpose!

The whole production is exquisite and has clearly been carefully and precisely put together, from the delightful and versatile snow set designed by Naomi Wilkinson to the wonderful lighting and sound. A perfect show for those who love physical theatre and are looking for a light and comfortable journey through an interesting and intriguing world.

Runs until Sat 24th Oct
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