Signdance Theatre International’s New Gold – Review

I am and have always seemed to be a superstitious person. So to see the dreaded “Friday 13th” steadily approaching in my diary made me want to shut myself in my house and pursue very boring and non-dangerous activities such as completing a 1,000 piece puzzle. I certainly did not think I’d be heading to East Croydon to see a theatre form that has been quite alien to me.

I must admit, I hadn’t done my research as sorting the tickets last minute had left me little time. So I really did not know what to expect of the evening. As I entered the cosy confines of the studio theatre I eagerly anticipated what was in store.

It soon became apparent that New Gold is a piece inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics that will shortly be descending on London. It aims to challenge our values and discover where we lie our importance as it follows the characters’ search for gold. The bright colours and fun atmosphere from the start reminded me of a circus and as an intimately small audience we were interacted with directly and encouraged to applaud the 4 “contestants”. At times I did not fully understand why I was clapping but joined in the fun and enjoyed feeling like part of the show. I particularly liked the eccentric costumes and props used, a waistcoat and umbrella were decorated in silhouettes of relevant handshapes that were repeated in the piece through movement.

Originally, I perceived there to be four actors on stage. Three characters represented the countries; the attention seeking England, the Italian thief and a bizarre Cuban secretary with astonishing red shoes. In addition was the compere. This was until a pile of rubbish emerged as a man begging for money and proudly representing Wales.

The piece progressed as a high energy physical fusion of mime, dance, speech and sign which was fully committed to by the cast and provided funny moments and audience interaction. For me, it was educating to attend a different form of theatre, and accessible theatre at that. When I was a student I adored physical theatre, total theatre and all things a bit abstract. Regrettably, I have not exposed myself to much of that genre since. The inclusive access element of the piece provided an interesting mixture of sign translation by a character on stage, SSE and sign incorporated into dance. This gave the audience a range of communication methods to experience and highlighted awareness of the visual language of BSL. However, I would like to have seen more use of the screen that was used before and after the performance to show pictures and credits. It would have been ideal for some creative captioning to compliment the piece.

New Gold is directed by Goro Osojnik, written by Pedro De Senna and David Bower and designed by Christine Wilson.It will be premiering at the Warehouse Theatre before touring to Slovenia, USA and Paralympis Games Sites.

We were then shown a musical cabaret by the same company with live music provided by Dead Days Beyond Help. The piece was entitled Half a Penny.

I’m a big fan of song signing and enjoyed Signdance Theatre International’s interpretation which used the whole body and the whole stage and was captivating to watch. It integrated some humorous on stage interpreting for the spoken and text based elements. The use of a live band really added a dimension to the overall performance.

In addition to Signdance Theatre International’s performances, integrated deaf and hearing theatre company Handprint are performing children’s show Soapy Sam complete with accessible workshops.

Sam

I wanted to interview Sam about his stay at the Warehouse Theatre but unfortunately it was past his bedtime and he was asleep. You’ll have to catch him in the afternoon if you want to see him, which I strongly advise you do and take the whole family as the show is suitable for ages 3 and up.

 

 

 

 

New Gold will be running everyday at The Warehouse theatre (with the exception of Mondays) until Sunday 29th April.

Dates and times for Soapy Sam are as follows:

Saturday 21st April – 11am

Sunday 22nd April – 12.30pm (performance & workshop)

Friday 27th April  – 1pm

Saturday 28th April – 11am

Sunday 29th April  – 12.30pm (performance & workshop)


Please contact the theatre to book tickets.

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