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The Mole And The Worm: An Underground Tale
Published on Wednesday, 20 July 2011

4 stars

Underground Venues - Pauper's Pit
19, 21-23 Jul, 9:15pm-10:00pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

An intriguing and atmospheric piece, The Mole And The Worm tells the story of a Spanish spelunker who comes across an antique English girl, whilst exploring a cave. At first she wishes to visit the outside world, and he is trying to escape it – but as the play unfolds we begin to see that things may not be quite as they appear. 

Opening with some strong imagery, the play maintained a striking look throughout, utilising the entire space evocatively and at times creating a truly claustrophobic atmosphere. All aspects of the design were perfectly matched to the space, and the brave stage pictures the actors created were well-judged and effective.

The performances are well-inhabited throughout. Javier Ariza has some great comic moments, which are contrasted by Amy Gwilliam's arresting stillness. Two very different characters, they each manage to achieve a comparable air of innocence, despite their different approaches. The tragicomic nature of the piece asks that both characters exhibit humour as well as real emotion, and the two actors rose to that challenge admirably.

A pleasantly odd tale generally, there were moments where the action seemed a touch disjointed. I personally felt that certain scenes went on a little longer than necessary, with the audience grasping the heart of the scene before it was through. A little tightening up might benefit the flow of the story.

The theme of a mismatched relationship is not a new one, and the essence of the script – a man and a woman with conflicting desires – isn't really covering new ground. However, there is a weirdness to the action that lifts it beyond the ordinary, and some great moments of offbeat and challenging humour. It all adds to the already fascinating nature of the characters, who – like the mole and the worm – might inhabit the same world, but cannot truly live together.

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