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> > > Review: Unlimited: The Garden

8 September 2012

Crowd watching outdoor theatre production including cloaked people on moving poles

The Garden on the Terrace

Amardeep Sohi reviews Graeae and Strange Fruit's Unlimited offering at the Unlimited Festival on the Terrace at the Southbank Centre.

Against the backdrop of the Thames and London’s sprawling concrete canvas, artists from Graeae and Strange Fruit defy gravity in an impressive display of agility and creativity. Perched on four-metre high poles, they sing, sway and reach out of the stories they create; stretching the imagination in every sense of the word.

On a parrot-green stage, framed by four poles and surrounded by crates of flowers and plants, the Keeper of History regales the audience with the stories of a woman, a boy and a man. The woman searches for the man she loves in her own reflection, only to find 110 years later that the very thing she searches for lies with her. A fearless boy, playfully swings from a pole before being reprimanded for plucking flowers and grass from the garden, whilst a man, who is haunted by his desire to be alone unveils the story of a woman who is thrust into ‘the blue world’ in which she does not fit. Each character undergoes a transformative experience to be appointed cloaked Keepers in their own right.

Integrating sign language, audio description and an affecting musical score, the stories promote themes of self love, growth, and possibility. The physical agility of the dexterous artists who attach themselves to the swaying poles is awe-inspiring. They set the pace, create a moveable structure and ebulliently shape the stories unravelling beneath them. It’s a skilled, yet subtle example of how thinking outside traditional structures feeds creativity and cultivates new meaning. 

Under the direction of Jenny Sealey and Grant Mouldey, The Garden creates a unified world that’s rooted in warmth, learning and innovation. And as the Keeper of History remarks: “today’s imagination helps us see tomorrow.”  Graeae and Strange Fruit’s imagination is indeed creating a tomorrow that knows no bounds. Inspired.