7 -30 Aug (not 11, 18) 1600 (1700) @ Pleasance Courtyard
By Emily P
Two men called Thomas keep the lighthouse on the Smalls in the early 19th century.
Through charming and skilful use of their bodies and the inventive creation of live sound effects three performers produce the machinery, weather, wildlife and routine of the lighthouse perched on a cluster of deadly rocks off the coast of Wales. Staunch under the battery of sound, light and motion which inform us that we are 20 miles out at sea, the lighthouse is as real to us as the flesh of the men maintaining it. And for the next hour we join them as they face the ceaseless challenges of unexpected storms, boredom and housekeeping.
As with any well choreographed piece of physical theatre there are some enchanting set-pieces in this production. From the cleaning of the light’s mirror as it passively rotates its face out to the sea and the ships it protects to the impromptu catching of a mackerel, the audience is enraptured by the construction of atmosphere and mise en scene. The mime skills of the two actors are considerable and put to excellent use; the boundaries between mime and dance blurring as they manhandle each other and their imaginary paraphernalia around the stage. The musician and sound jockey has superb moments to shine; the creation of a flock of Shearwaters one of the most memorable.
With a little more polish and a tightening up of the dialogue and action Keepers will be a popular choice this festival for lovers of atmosphere and theatrical effect. But it is not lacking in depth, for although there are moments of comedy as the two Thomases find ways of rubbing along together in their uniquely demanding environment, the play also explores what loneliness and isolation can do to the mind and the spirit.
Keep this play in mind should you want to see some delightful theatre.