Tortoise in a Nutshell and Anne Sophie Oxenvad
Tortoise in a Nutshell
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Alex Bird

Tortoise in a Nutshell has created a double-hander that immerses the audience in a strange nautical world.

The production involves much juxtaposition of the large-scale with the very small-scale, with a set that fills the whole stage, but also the puppetry of tiny flimsy objects, creating the sense of a human lost in an ocean and also the fragility of the human mind.

A man (Alex Bird) is at sea on a delicate papery boat; the sea is wonderfuly realised: a billowing sail that fills Traverse One's sizable stage. The man plays with paper objects, a boat in a little tub of water.

This melancholy figure dressed in grey has his silent, sad voyage interrupted by a quite strange and silly creature, a fish (Arran Howie) which flops into the boat.

This flippy flappy party animal does her best to liven up life on board the boat, including a fun rendition of Wham!'s "Club Tropicana". Howie is both a whirlpool of energy and a floppy, sloppy fish, waving her big flippers about.

The piece is about depression, the fish with her fun and frivolity helps the man to open up, to join in the dance and live a little. Darren Brownlie's choreography of the two characters forms a key part of the production.

The two characters' contrasting spirits are shown through movement and through costume, with the fish decked out in raver gear with shiny fish-scale disco leggings, while the man is in a grey-striped top and thin, slightly revealing, grey jogging bottoms.

Fisk has been on a voyage around Scotland as part of the Manipulate festival. This is a theatre festival of animation and movement, but puppetry is the main focus and Fisk as well as great movement has some very delicate and beautiful puppets.

The man creates out of paper boats, fish and also haunting people puppets that examine ideas of relationships and people connecting.

An unexpected journey through different emotions, through loneliness and depression, through wacky silliness, this is a random but rewarding ride.

Reviewer: Seth Ewin

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