Wrong Tree Adventures: Solstice, Lauriston Halls, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Wrong Tree Theatre
Helen Fitzmaurice and Henry Fell (directors), Astrud Turner (technical director), Georgie Proctor (musical director).
Henry Gould, Lucy Nicholson, Jake Hathaway, Athena Tzallas, Anais Dahl. Band - Georgie Proctor (flute) Emily Winters (viola), Franklin Taylor Moore (violin), Tom Knight (banjo), James Sibbit (bodhran).
Running time

When a hooded man is hanged for a three-fold murder, this is not the end of the story but its beginning.

This is a land where holy places are the woods and the groves, where everything is a manifestation of some god, goddess or invisible divine being and the material and spiritual are inter-twined. A place where cyclical stories are important.

So, when the sprites and land spirits cut him down he finds that he is no longer mortal but, before being able to cross to the bridge to Valhalla, must serve a test set by the Queen of Solstice. His sacrifice is needed to enable growth, to drive forward the seasons. After a year his body will be taken back and he and his family will remember nothing.

The transition from winter to spring will be easy as the earth is ready to be reawakened, but the task will become more arduous as the year goes on. His tasks will see him hunt the grey stag and manage the festivities to celebrate the coming summer.

As summer extends into autumn the Queen finds herself reluctant to choose another in his place, but the cycle needs to turn and sacrifice will be required.

This is a devised physical theatre piece performed with live folk music. It does well to capture the nature of Norse myth without dealing with its complex cosmology and myriad themes. The story could though have a stronger thread, the included campfire tales add to the feel but not its arc. This unevenness also extends to parts where there is more music than action.

With confident performances, the music is well played and sung and the stylised movement is particularly nicely done and directed. The face painting and costumes add to an other-worldly aesthetic.

The short production feels rather contained for a saga and it could be developed. Taking it site-specific or outdoors might unleash its pagan spirit and let it breathe.

Show Times: 21 – 27 August 2017 at 4.15pm.

Tickets: £7 (£6) (£20 families).

Suitability: PG