FRINGE REVIEW – Belt Up’s Octavia (C Soco)

*****

7 – 30 Aug (not 25th)
1200-1255, C Soco

Octavia

Octavia (photo credit: FourthEye Photography)

From the moment you step through the door of The House Above – Belt Up Theatre’s installation space at C Soco – you are instantly transported to a magical, fairytale land.

The world of Octavia is inhabited by storybook characters who welcome you to the space, introduce themselves, then proceed to turn the pages of the tale of a young girl on a quest to restore peace to her war-torn kingdom. This – the first ever children’s show from the acclaimed young theatre company – is an enjoyable, haunting and imaginative piece that will appeal to all.

In an effective marriage of Belt Up’s trademark audience immersion and a charming and touching fairytale, you will be asked to dance with kings, queens & courtiers; to journey with Octavia through magical forests; and to join in with moments of celebration. The six-strong cast create a dream-like atmosphere, mixing elements of pantomime, music & physical theatre to create a compelling and intriguing – and often quite beautiful – work.

As we sit on cushions and sofas in the performance space, the set and props are imaginatively used to spirit us away to castle ramparts and battlefields; or to create mysterious underwater environments where sea witches reign. The subtle lighting and precision direction ensure the story captures the minds of the audience, with a playful mood that runs through the production and which ensures delight at every turn.

The cast are all strong, demonstrating well-balanced performances which echo the piece’s mood and its themes of self-discovery, reconcilliation and sacrifice. The young lead in particular puts in a perfect turn as Octavia herself, portraying her wide-eyed innocence and wonder at the world whilst also displaying her selfless heart and emotion.

And indeed there are points during the show – particularly towards its end – where these storybook characters create such touching and tender moments of poignancy that you will re-emerge from Octavia not only having been thoroughly entertained, but also deeply moved.

Ticket information is available on the Fringe website.

Review by Keith D

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