From the moment you enter the space created by Belt Up Theatre, there is a feeling of enchantment. It is an incredibly intimate and intricate venue, designed as a drawing room from times gone by. As an audience, there is no strict divide between you and the performance; you are just barely outside of the action – until you get invited to join in. Blending the life of author Lewis Carroll with a condensed version of his story Sylvie and Bruno, this piece captures the absurdity of his writing, the nostalgia for childhood which sits at the back of your consciousness, and the magical spark that can only be created by live theatre.
At the heart of the story is Charles, a man for whom the fine line between reality and imagination, which has served him so well throughout his life, is gradually fading. He has gone to visit Arthur and Murial, two young friends who, as children, accompanied him on journeys into the realms of fantasy and absurdity in the kingdom of Outland. While the jolly adventures of creative imagination sweep the characters along, the harsh realities of life are ever present, as Charles’ health continues to deteriorate.
The performances are exquisite, with the actors shifting deftly between their multiple roles and multiple realities. Jethro Compton and Serena Manteghi are an endearing young couple as Murial and Arthur, while also inhabiting fully the joyful and childlike characters of Sylvie and Bruno and the ridiculous baddies of Fairyland, Tabikat and Sibimet. As Lewis/Charles, writer Dominic Allen creates a haunted, manic figure who delights you with his storytelling, while his descent into illness breaks your heart.
This is a piece which will excite, delight, bemuse and amaze. Allow yourself to let go and experience the magical world that is Outland.
Kryztoff rating: 5K