Raven at The Space
Somewhere on the Isle of Dogs and a stone’s throw away from the prominent Canary Wharf lies a converted church. A humble venue that stands in stark contrast to its towering neighbour, it’s a perfect place for a unique performance that juxtaposes the constraints of time against the freedom of nature. Upstairs, a well-stocked bar sets off a cosy eating area dotted with sunken leather sofas. The staff is welcoming, the atmosphere is informal and comforting – so much so that it’s hard to leave. Beneath the rustic charm of the lounge upstairs is The Space, a venue committed to providing a range of events and opportunities for new performances. It’s perfect for an innovative theatre company that dares to tell bold and intricate stories.
Raven, the work of Deborah Ward, is a beautifully magical play that harnesses the power of poetic movement, subtle expression and soundscapes in compelling storytelling. It first appeared at The Space as a 25 minute performance that was very much a work-in-progress. Since then, it has bloomed into a blissful 60 minutes of original theatre, so enchanting it bewitches the audience into a hypnotic trance.
The play follows an ethereal, magical genre, in which a family is crushed by the commercial greed of a time king and land owner. Taken prisoner, Faith (Maria Velazquez) finds herself caught between two worlds – Time and Nature. Finally falling in love with the king’s brother Pan, and liberated by nature, Faith must find a way to save her family.
There is no dialogue between the characters and, except for a brief introductory narration that epitomises some of the great fairy-tale voice-overs, the actors express their emotions through their faces and body. Movements are stylised to reflect the jarring movement of a clock’s ticking hands, and the fluidity of a river. So spectacular is the overall effect that it’s almost like watching real-life digital puppetry. Although the entire cast does a fantastic job, the one to watch is the extremely talented Maria Velazquez. With her porcelain features, she manages to speak a thousand words in a single expression, each one more hypnotic than the other. Equally, her body motions are just as captivating as her face. Annabel Brooke also impresses as an animated younger sister, doll-like, and reflecting an innocence way before her years.
Although far from conventional theatre, this play will neither bore nor be difficult to follow. A fascinating enigma, it offers something totally unique and special. Synaestheatre is a company definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Raven is on at The Space Theatre from 18th August until 29th August 2015, for further information or to book visit here.