Within the antique Bosco tent, the young cast of the Certain Dark Things Theatre Company capably evoke the dilapidated, shabby feel of a circus freak show. We are greeted enthusiastically by the 'Ringmaster', and introduced to each character in turn. The main thread of the story follows the traditional tale of Snow White – particularly how she is almost killed off by her wicked step-mother.
I liked the way that each character, all misfits to the circus, has their individual opportunity to help move the story along. Particularly charming was the clown (Sarah Morgan), who seems rather like an overgrown puppy desperate to please her owner. Morgan did very little, but what she did do was highly effective.
The Company are clearly accomplished musicians and, at times, this was a real asset to the show. There were also some good moments theatrically, such as the scene where the step-mother is watching Snow White through the mirror, with haunting voices creating a truly evil atmosphere. My favourite part was the step-mother’s transformation into her full wickedness, a clever transition from human to puppet with only a silver sheet for help. Unfortunately though, the company also took far too many risks which didn’t pay off – occasionally with painful results.
I can see what the actors were trying to do; but sadly the constant shrieking, screaming and shouting – particularly to mark every scene change – was so jarring and incongruous that it stopped the flow of the piece dead. Once the pattern became established, I began to dread the next time it was going to happen, a fact which distracted me continually from the performance. There could have been an amazing moment when Snow White's mother died, but it was instantly lost amidst the over-exaggerated and over-done noise once again.
This also influenced how I felt about the ending. If you took the unnecessary bombardment away, it was a very unusual and interesting twist to the traditional fairy tale. It’s a clever idea within the context of the whole piece and I was bitterly disappointed that it got lost amongst the chaos.
I liked the concept of this piece very much, but the delivery was simply too clumsy. The company are clearly talented – so they just need to have the courage to hold those poignant moments for longer, and allow the audience to relish them. With a few simple changes, it could be a far more interesting piece of theatre… and far less painful on the ear.