BOAT Review

Theatre N16, 19th October – 5th November.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Oh. My. Word.

BOAT is one of those rare plays that leaves you feeling slightly grubby for having enjoyed human misery so much.

PIGDOG’s production of Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s debut play is simply stunning.  A girl is adrift on a boat on an endless ocean. The girl has forgotten her name. Her twin is also on the boat, but she hasn’t moved or spoken for a long time. Girl is adamant that she is just sleeping. Turtle repeatedly comes to visit the girl on her boat and talks about relativity and freedom. Then Gull finds the boat, and begins to contradict Turtle’s ideas. So far, so “Life of Pi”, but then sinister slips and hints begin to trickle into the conversations and Girl’s memories. Amidst the mythology of “The Leaving” and the “litterlands” ripples of fear and horror of “them” begin to emerge.

Pia Laborde Noguez is phenomenal as Girl – she captures the innocence and precociousness of the character perfectly, and breaks your heart in the final scenes. As Twin, Cristina Catalina excels in the seemingly less sympathetic role as the stronger, protective sibling who gives in to despair. Matthew Coulton’s Turtle is full of joy and love for Girl, but Coulton lets his true motives reveal themselves subtly and almost sympathetically. Gabriele Lombardo as Gull is full of energy and this makes his shame and fear in his final scene even more heartfelt.

The set design at first appears sweet and naïve, but as the story unfolds, you realise why these objects have been used. The sound effects are created on stage by the cast and the audience and recorded and manipulated for use throughout by the Jellyfish of Sound (Jethro Cooke). Again, the reasons for this became horrifyingly clear. This is such an intricate production – lines that seemed irrelevant come back to haunt you; everything on stage has a purpose. It is like putting together a jigsaw with no picture to guide you. Suddenly, fantasy is stripped away and stark reality is laid bare – and it is awful. But oh so relevant. There is no happy ending, just a fade to dark. “Regret is dark, dark is regret.”

This is a production you must see. PIGDOG have created a little piece of magic  – beautiful, horrible, dark magic.