Tuesday, 29 May 2018

REVIEW: Knock Knock at the EM Forster studio and on tour

Hot Coals Theatre are establishing a unique charming style of theatre without words that is an extraordinary mix of physical comedy, clowning, mime and dance used to create emotionally engaging storytelling. Their first production "A storm in a tea cup" dealt with old age and was inspired by Chekov's "Three sisters". Their second "Finders Keeper" explored the love between a parent and child and was inspired by the story of Moses in the Bullrushes. This third production "Knock Knock" explores what happens when a botanist, Pepper, knocks on the door of a forest dweller, Harris and reminded me of the TV ad for TV Licensing when a couple fast forward through their life together. 

It is devised and performed by the Founders of Hot Coals Theatre, Clare-Louise English and Jo Sargeant who work so well together. You hardly notice that there are no words as they use movement and facial expressions synchronised with the beautiful underscore to tell their story. With their comical noses and Harris's sumptuous beard, so much of the emotion is expressed through their eyes and they exploit this wonderfully, never rushing the moment and always aware of the audience watching them. 

There are elements carried over from "Finders Keeper" in the repetitive routines of their daily life and the impact of change on that routine but the play beautifully examines how the relationship develops. It also has a clear message about gender roles in marriage as they find that following the guidance of the books "wifing for dummies" and "husbanding for dummies" does not necessarily lead to successful relationships.

For a studio scale production there is an incredibly detailed and attractive set. One half of the stage is the woodlands with its trees and flowers which both characters worship in their own way. The other half is the interior of Pepper's wood cottage reflecting his simple life with books and a cooker. The door they pass through from woods to interior is cleverly mounted on wheels so that they make the movement a dance. Jo Bernard has done a wonderful job throughout
developing the movement routines from synchronised double acts to acrobatic tumbling and graceful dance. There is a delightful sequence that shows the passing of the seasons, so simply and effectively executed. 

Just four performances in this is a show that will continue to develop and evolve, the comedy will get stronger and I am sure magical elements be added. I strongly recommend looking out for its autumn tour when this will be a show to take the whole family to for a joyous exquisite hour of moving entertainment. 

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Free seating in stalls | Price of Ticket: £15
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