Grief doesn’t need words to communicate. Music and movement are much better mediums for the relentless, gut ripping echo that is losing someone you love. The Wrong Crowd’s latest work Kite depicts the simple, family friendly tale of Girl’s move to her grandmother’s home in the city after her mother’s death. Puppetry, movement and music completely replace words in this visual theatre piece that quietly charms in its simplicity.
We first meet Girl (Charlotte Croft) poring through boxes labelled, “mum’s stuff” and reliving her memories through perfume, clothes and a photograph. In this sadly beautiful sequence, she rebuilds her mother out of these items, but her grandmother (Liz Crowther) eventually interrupts. Girl is often alone but for the constant wind the audience hears, personified by two strangers in grey trench coats, Linden Walcott-Burton and Nicola Blackwell. They are an ominous presence initially but once their purpose is made clear, they lose their threatening presence. These two also functionally serve as stagehands, moving and shifting the set and props in tightly choreographed neutrality that’s entrancing to watch. They never judge, just eternally observe and manipulate the world around them.
Suddenly, a small, yellow kite interrupts Girl’s melancholy and refusal to eat at her grandmother’s house, and everything changes. The colour is a bright splash across the dark set and its constant movement takes on its own personality, like the wind that propels it. The quiet, calm atmosphere gains a refreshing energy as Girl bonds with the kite mid-air. Puppetry is introduced and adds additional charm, but could be incorporated more and earlier in the piece.
Though movement and sound are the primary features conveying mood and tone here, the choreography by Eddie Kay is simple. Polished, but simple – and it works. Dealing with grief is a repetitive process, making everyday routine even more meaningless. Girl has little expression until she finds the kite, drawing even more attention to the movement. The audience can see Grandmother’s exasperation in unembellished, repeated gestures. Crowther counters her with a warm, expressive face that betrays her love for girl; rare moments where she can focus on her own grief are some of the saddest in the show.
The design, like the choreography, is simple and effective. Director Rachel Canning takes charge of this element, integrating it well with the action. Domestic items seem mundane but are transformed into a skyline when Girl flies high above the city. A similar transformation happens to Grandmother’s umbrella with the addition of some rope lighting.
The piece as a whole doesn’t have a huge “wow” factor, but that’s ok. It has a gentle warmth, plenty of pathos and feels like a soothing bath after a long day. Its quietness suits the very young and those prone to sensory overload, but the story of a young girl’s journey through grief resonates with all ages.
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