Part of the London International Mime Festival, Kite embarks upon the story of an orphaned girl (Charlotte Croft) and her grandmother (Liz Crowther). Presented simply and sweetly, Kite is an aptly wordless performance, reminding us how hard it can be to talk about grief.
After the death of her mother, the girl and her grandmother uproot their quiet lives by the sea to move to London. The playful storytelling is aided by the wind, in the form of two identically dressed figures. They watch over the bereaved pair in sadness and curiosity, whilst manipulating coats and scarves, setting them aflutter, a trick that whilst initially effective, does begin to wear thin over the course of the hour.
Tensions between girl and grandmother arise, the girl growing isolated and stroppy, whilst the grandmother desperately tries to care for her granddaughter, as well as coping with her own pain. Watching the two cohabit whilst coping with the absence of this vital generational link creates a heart wrenching physical dialogue, peaking with a meticulously and innovatively choreographed scene in which the grandmother reaches her wits end in trying to make the girl eat. This now missing link, with the help of a strong breeze and a kite brought to life, sets up the driving force for the rest of the play: the forging of a bridge between two generations.
Watching the young girl tear through London by the tails of the kite, whilst her windswept gran trails the streets worriedly behind her is not complete without the exquisite set of director/designer Rachel Canning. Beautifully lit set pieces come together to create a wild variety of scenes, from their seaside home doubling as a convincing train, to a fridge as a crowded tube carriage, Canning’s design is not short of innovation. The highlight here is a scene in which the girl (now in tiny puppet form) is carried along the London skyline by her spirited kite, and we see a mantelpiece clock become Big Ben, and the grandmother’s cleverly lit umbrella transform into the London Eye. All this, accompanied by Isobel Waller-Bridge’s enchanting score, is what makes this a truly special piece of storytelling.
It’s a shame that the actors’ movement isn’t always sharp enough to lull the audience completely into what they’ve created, it can seem a bit fidgety at times, with too much repetition of the fluttering of scarves and the initial scenes of the kite going on for a little longer than the audience’s concentration merited. Whilst this is a delightfully sensitive piece, it isn’t so much a gust of wind, than a light breeze- enjoyable and refreshing, but not enough to whisk us off our feet, and into another world.
Kite will be continuing its run at Soho Theatre till 6th February at 7pm. Tickets are available here.
CAST AND CREW
- Director/Designer: Rachel Canning
- Movement Director: Eddie Kay
- Composer/Sound Designer: Isobel Waller-Bridge
- Lighting Designer: Mark Howland
- Design Associate: Molly Syrett
- Dramaturg: Nina Steiger
- Casting Director: Nadine Rennie
- Producer: Bonnie Mitchell
- Assistant Producer: Rosie Clark
- Cast: Charlotte Croft, Liz Crowther, Nicola Blackwell, Linden Walcott-Burton