Mini Review from London-CROW

by Lynn on July 5, 2012

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Borough Hall at Greenwich Dance, London. Written by Ted Hughes. Directed by Mervyn Millar. Choreographed by Ben Duke. Designed by Holly Waddington. Puppet design by Ed Dimbleby and Mervyn Millar. Lighting by Lucy Carter. Composed by Leafcutter John.

Produced by Handspring Puppet Company UK.

CROW by Handspring Puppets. Well I was there in a shot. Handspring Puppets from South Africa, I’m thinking. Here’s the problem. It’s not THAT Handspring Puppets from South Africa created by Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler—who designed the puppets for War Horse. It’s a new London company, a sister company to Handspring Puppet Company from South Africa, that is being supported by the South African guys. NOT THE SAME THING!!!

It’s based on the Ted Hughes poem called CROW. Parts of it are recited and all of it is incomprehensible. “He went up to the water…..He went up to the eye-lashes.” HUH? Am I supposed to know what that means? Are we to have read and studied this impenetrable poem for about 7 years to get ANY of it?? There were six performers all mainly modern dancers. There are several manipulated crows in various sizes.

It took place in some apocalypse or at least some place that had no laundry facilities because they all were deliberately sweaty and dirty as were their clothes.

There is a large black mound of something with what looks like a removable top. Shades of HAPPY DAYS by Beckett. I wish. He was easier to figure out.

All sorts of characters scurried around in filthy torn clothes with grime and sweat on their bodies. A crow came out of the top of the mound.

Many people handled the crows and they all ‘cawwwwed’ loudly and often. I wanted to kill them. Each person recited parts of the poem into a microphone just off to the side.
It was all very earnest and a little less than one hour. That’s still too long. I found this whole thing life shortening.

There is a very long essay taken from one of Ted Hughes’ books explaining the point of the ‘Trickster’ in literature, likening it to Black Comedy. That makes no sense to me. Those of us in Canada who are lucky to see plays by Aboriginal, (First Nations) writers, are very familiar with the Trickster. That’s a spirit often in bird form, who meddles, tricks, fools and plays around with the senses of ordinary folks, keeping them on their toes or not. Mr. Hughes’ note makes no sense, and neither does this show.

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