Operation Elsewhere at Big Telly Theatre online
In such morbid times, it’s relieving just to forget and escape the lockdown for an hour. Operation Elsewhere, directed by Big Telly Theatre’s artistic director Zoe Seaton, succeeds in this endeavour by plugging you into the virtual world but taking you off to a magical realm.
For those concerned about the technicalities or exposure of a Zoom production, there isn’t any need to feel overwhelmed or squeamish. A pithy introduction from Cillian Lenahan’s chatty Border Guard allays all those fears while showing just how informal the experience is going to be.
Adapted from Jane Talbot’s The Faerie Thorn, the piece takes viewers on a journey through Irish folklore via the mythic land of Elsewhere. You’ll discover what a Changeling is, train with the crabby old warrior Scatha (a superbly vigorous Nicky Harley) and fight against the evil Mad Sweeney the Birdman (Michael Johnston) in a desperate bid to save a captured bride (Rosie McClelland). While Talbot’s short stories are pitched as dark fairy tales, they are reimagined here with a modern, comedic twist. The re-telling remains light-hearted, accessible and fun throughout.
What must be praised is that despite the director, seven actors and “stage” team being separated due to the current crisis, this production is technically seamless (Zoom wizard Sinead Owen’s oversight is truly magic), with an upbeat, anarchic atmosphere. Even the occasional dubious green-screen effect doesn’t detract from the production’s abundance of imagination and inventiveness.
The endearing cast get you to join in on the fun through chanting, physical routines and fashioning costumes or props from nearby objects. With the screen flicking at times between you and your fellow travellers, these slight detours into other peoples’ living rooms (and vice versa) are delightful opportunities to see everyone sharing in the silliness.
Operation Elsewhere is family-friendly and community theatre at heart, offering up charming moments of hilarity and celebration. It’s wonderful to be transported for an hour and this reviewer would thoroughly recommend this adventure elsewhere.
Operation Elsewhere is being streamed live at 3pm and 7pm from 2nd May until 4th May 2020. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.