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The Forest And The Field, Ovalhouse Theatre

Chris Goode & Company

Pros: A truly original show with a provocative, original script, beautiful singing and creative dancing. Not all of the actors are human which makes this show extra special.
Cons: If you’re looking for a fluffy show designed purely for entertainment purposes then steer clear of this one. This is deeply immersive theatre that asks you to really think about your life and your place in the world.
Our Verdict: A stunning piece of immersive theatre which is profound, intelligent, vulnerable and inspiring in a thousand different ways. Chris Goode is a creative force to be reckoned with.
Courtesy of the Ovalhouse
If theatre can’t change the world, are we wasting our time?
It is always difficult to write a review for a show which is neither script nor character driven, particularly a show as multi-faceted as this one. After all, my experience of the piece may be entirely different from yours and the moments which resonate with one person may have passed me by in favour of others. Several times during the performance I found myself caught up in a particularly personal moment, thus missing the bits that followed, which is why I’d happily see this show twice or maybe three times to experience the full effect.
There are many reasons why this show works but I felt the main reason is simply down to its honesty and vulnerability. The entire performance feels completely open and real. Rarely do we get to see theatre which feels as truthful as this. Live performance which questions us as individuals and examines the nature of theatre itself on such plain terms is a rare thing indeed. Goode has managed to do this in a non-confrontational way so the performance feels exploratory, friendly and entertaining. There is quite a bit of nudity in this play and considering how raw and vulnerable the script is, the nudity felt right – almost necessary in fact (literally the first time I’ve ever said that about a show. Ever). The exploration of the word ‘O’ in Shakespeare’s work felt particularly apt. The rawness and openness of this word, both in how we must open our mouths to express it and in the weight of the word itself and what it often pre-empts in speeches is one of the many fascinating topics this performance delves into.
The show consists of three performers – Chris Goode who does most of the talking, Tom Ross-Williams who provides the more physical moments and Antonio who is a handsome ginger tabby. Considering this show explores many things, not least our vulnerability as creatures, I felt the addition of this little charmer gave an extra dimension to the topic. Domestic animals are incredibly vulnerable and seeing Antonio potter about on a huge stage was a terrific idea. He became a symbol of ourselves in the world we inhabit. Having said that, I am only giving you my own interpretation. Like all truly great art, we find reflections of ourselves in what the artist presents to us.
There is so much to say and so many angles I could take considering the depth of rich ideas which surge forth during this show. Tom Ross-Williams has so much to offer as a performer and adds plenty of beautiful movement pieces, monologues and singing to help bring body to Goode’s poetic words. The lighting, sound and set design work together brilliantly to create real depth and beauty. There was also a sense of unity in the audience which is something that can be hard to create and even harder to maintain. Everything about this show works together extremely well to form a delicate, poetic atmosphere. This is an enormously creative, thoughtful and deeply fascinating work. Stunning. Bravo.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!

The Forest and the Field runs at the Ovalhouse until 8th March 2013.
Box Office: 020 7582 7680 or book online at http://www.ovalhouse.com/whatson/detail/the-forest-and-the-field

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