Ovalhouse, London – until 6 May 2017
Scarlet and Olive were left behind when the evacuation transport left their town without them. A dust storm has rendered their home a foreign landscape. They have five days until the transport will return to collect any stragglers, and news is due over the radio at any time between now the then. The resourceful young women must work together to find water and build a shelter so they can survive until someone comes back to get them, and the audience of people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) is there to help.
Frozen Light’s steampunk adventure is a multi-sensory one – smells, sound, taste and touch all play a role in the story. Each milestone in the plot is punctuated with music and 1:1 interaction with the disabled members of the audience. Being able to watch their reactions to these encounters is a privilege, and proof that people of all cognitive abilities can appreciate theatre. The story is simple enough that it doesn’t lose momentum, and the music also helps keep the energy up.
The performers accompany their dialogue and songs with Makaton, a simplified sign language used in special schools and in baby signing. This end up serving a choreographic function and is easy to follow as well as visually appealing. The script repeats key words and phrases, but they are usually set to music and don’t last so long that the action is slowed too much, like the 1:1s.
There is certainly appeal to audiences outside of the target demographic. The production is lively and fun, and doesn’t treat anyone overly gently. Home is a clever feast for the senses and provides the time to relish the stimulation and joy of storytelling. It’s a gentle experience full of love and patience, and wholly commendable work from Frozen Light.