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Caliper Boy

dANTE OR dIE
Camden People's Theatre
(2006)

Production photograph

Caliper Boy is a simple story about the childhood of a lonely boy who wants to fit into a society that he does not completely understand; his search for his absent farther and his ability to see beauty in a rotten strawberry. Pictures are created physically through the bodies of performer Terry O'Donovan and Dancer Sarah Sproull. Aurally through the deliberately disjointed text (Anthea Neagle) and highly enjoyable live folk music (Left With Pictures, who worked in collaboration with dANTE OR dIE resident Musical Director, Yaniv Fridel). Words and images work together to recreate the legendary Soho bordello where the twelve year old boy (born to a Soho prostitute) was locked up because his mother was ashamed of him.

Director Daphna Attias pushes the theatrical possibilities to the limit in every project, not only testing the work, herself, the collaborators, but also the audience's expectations. I feel fortunate to have experienced three out of four of their devised pieces since the company was formed in 2004. Each time I am pleasantly surprised and inspired. It was refreshing to see a fringe production where the audience is not spoon-fed through a linear story and where you are left questioning the relationships between the performers, the performers and the audience, and the text with the live music.

So, what is the recipe for innovative theatre? It's called funding and when you put funding and creativity together, you get Caliper Boy. Thanks to the Arts Council England, The National Lottery's Awards for All fund, Royal Victoria Hall Foundation and the Tonic program at Camden Peoples Theatre, dANTE OR dIE have devised a deeply visual theatrical experience. The fact that this visual experience is created with a minimum set of two pillows, two wall ladders and some red yarn is evidence of the visionary ability of both Michelle Reader, (Scenographer) and of dANTE OR dIE.

Physical Theatre might be a little alienating for some audiences because it uses a different vocabulary and for those audiences let me say this: let the metaphors over power you, you don't have to understand everything.

Runs until Sunday 10th December, 8pm

Reviewer: Lennie Varvarides