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Review: Places I Never Think About, Applecart Arts

Given the state of the world right now it is unsurprising that many works of art illuminate the heartbreaking stories of those who have had to flee their homes if they want something that resembles a normal life. Yet while Places I Never Think About touches on these themes it has been created with the intention of showing other more positive aspects of immigrants lives. The cast of three (and a very talented musician) each bring to life multiple characters from traditional Hungarian, Romanian and Croatian folklore, but there's also some very innovative puppetry, use of music, dance, poetry…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

A quite unusual piece of theatre, Rebeka Dio's production explores the complexity of immigrant life in ways which are often funny, strange and quietly beautiful.

Given the state of the world right now it is unsurprising that many works of art illuminate the heartbreaking stories of those who have had to flee their homes if they want something that resembles a normal life. Yet while Places I Never Think About touches on these themes it has been created with the intention of showing other more positive aspects of immigrants lives.

The cast of three (and a very talented musician) each bring to life multiple characters from traditional Hungarian, Romanian and Croatian folklore, but there’s also some very innovative puppetry, use of music, dance, poetry and song to create a rich and layered level of storytelling. The tales may be hundreds of years old as well but their sentiments reflect the lives of people today as well, yet it never feels forced, and it comes with an impish sense of humour.

There are three main plot strands which are used as a device to explore the complexities of leaving a country, and before entering there is a content warning attached to the door. Yet despite this and the presence of one particularly unpleasant character it’s also very much a production which is life-affirming and full of laugh out loud moments. It features fantastical ideas while taking delight in presenting queer romances and the joy of discovering how unpredictable life may be.

Even those whose bedtime stories came from the original versions of Grimms’ Fairy Tales may find some of these myths unconventional, including a romance between a man and a horse and their offspring needing to be breast fed for 21 years. Yet the cast are on such strong form that it instantly makes sense, even though afterwards it will dawn on just how odd it actually was. In many ways it reminds of Jan ҆vankmajer’s beloved films because this is a work which is confidently strange, yet it always feels like every moment is essential, with it all combining to create a memorably atmospheric and thought provoking play.

Rebeka Dio, Billie Hewitt-Pavlica and Irina Anghel have created something really rather special with Places I Never Think Of, and it’s a production that contains a great deal of quiet beauty. It’s a world which isn’t without its dark places, but it knows that even in the hardest of times we need to seek out moments of joy, and celebrate the diversity that surrounds us.

A production that is more than ready for a home where it can be staged nightly, the choreography is often stunning and the same applies to the polyphonic singing. The manner in which the cast leap from one character to another, changing both dialect and physical mannerisms consistently impressed throughout the all too brief running time, and indeed my only complaint was that it only ran for fifty five minutes, as I would happily watch double that.


Created by and Musical Direction by: Rebeka Dio
Places I Never Think Of was part of Applecart Art’s Springboard Festival, playing on 17 and 18 February 2024. Further information can be found here.

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