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Wild Thing I Love You
Published on Thursday, 09 May 2013

Promotional Image

3 stars

The Nightingale (venue website)
6 May, 3:00pm-4:00pm, 6:00pm-7:00pm, 8:00pm-9:00pm; 7 May, 9:00pm-10:00pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Warning: Contains strong language.
 Parental Guidance. Under-17's must be accompanied by an adult.

Here’s an unusual, sweetly innocent little show, about two travellers who set off in search of a fable. Back in 2011, Ella Good and Nicki Kent took a road trip across northern California – reputedly home to Bigfoot, the American equivalent of our Loch Ness Monster. With their audience crowded into a tent they’ve erected on the stage, sitting round a spread-out map and munching campsite food, they tell the story of their journey and share some of the insights they gathered along the way.

Good and Kent play their roles well, with just the right amount of child-like enthusiasm for their big Bigfoot adventure.  They adopt an air of wide-eyed naivety, talking us through the details of their travels and illustrating their journey by moving paper models around their map.  It’s a creative and genuinely multimedia show, using live video to capture a cinematic close-up of the models, and mixing in audio and video recordings they collected during the journey itself.  The whole production was impeccably presented, beautifully coordinated and very well-rehearsed; a triumph of hidden discipline, and surely the makings of a hugely enjoyable performance style.

The actual material, though, was rather too thin.  We get glimpses of some colourful characters they met along the way, but – with the exception of TV host “Bobo” – I wasn’t left feeling that I really knew them.  Similarly, the adventuring duo skipped over some details which sounded like the start of a compelling story: who wouldn’t want to hear more about the night they camped alone, with the bears, in the pitch-black woods?  I suspect they didn’t say much because not much actually happened… but with such an intriguing scenario, a true storyteller could surely find some kind of tale to tell.

And I realised afterwards that, despite spending the entire show staring at a map, I’d left with little understanding of what the landscape was like.  As the dialogue stressed, a sense of place is a key part of the Bigfoot story, but I never quite developed any affinity for the particular world this narrative is set in.  Perhaps as a result of that disconnection, I wasn’t as immersed in the performance as I could have been – or wanted to be – and I must admit that a few of the extended visual segments left me decidedly fidgety.

What saves this show is the performers’ straightforward charm, and cultivated sense of naivety.  The story they had, they told well, and they worked well together: I think over time they’ll develop a downplayed but thoroughly memorable style.  All that’s needed is a little more tightness, and – dare I say it – a little more willingness to exaggerate sketchy fragments of source material.  Rather like Bigfoot itself, there is a great show hiding here, so let’s hope in time they can coax it out.

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