Sir Percival and the Jabberwock

Aug 20 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆     Epic ambition

Greenside @ Infirmary St (Venue 236): Mon 14 – Sat 26 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is a poetic sensibility at work in Kestrel Eye Production’s Sir Percival and the Jabberwock, at Greenside @ Infirmary Street, that overcomes huge difficulties to create a fascinating result.

Daniel Nisbet. Pic Jo Wildman

Percy, traumatised by the death of his mother and the end of his relationship, is transformed into armour-wearing Sir Percival, in a quest featuring characters drawn from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.

What sounds like it might be a children’s show is emphatically nothing of the kind. It is instead a defiant attempt at constructing a theatrical equivalent of an epic poem. Owing as much to Freud as Carroll, it is nothing less than a metaphorical depiction of the reconstruction of the sense of self.

The very least that can be said of Jacob Watson’s script is that it is a considerable and sustained linguistic feat. However, the demands of it seem too much for the cast a great deal of the time. Sometimes it is performed haltingly, sometimes in a rush, with insufficient attention paid to either meaning or poetry. Some of it is verges on the overwrought, some is so quiet it is inaudible over the noisy venue fan.

artistic bravado

Full marks for sheer artistic bravado, however. Brandon Kiziloz and Ottilie Hill Smith’s direction ensures that there is a visual rhythm, even when the linguistic rhythm falters. The way that the various characters are visible even before the audience enters the auditorium itself is a neat touch.

Leon Lee and Robert Torres’s lighting, together with Veronica Hein’s sound design also add atmosphere, while Spencer Hillman’s costumes are strikingly imaginative and make great use of available resources.

A scene from Sir Percival and the Jabberwock. Pic Jo Wildman

Daniel Nisbet’s Percy is a suitably tortured central figure, with strong support from the cast of Ella Carew, Mhairi Gilmour, Audrey Lauzun, Arielle Firestone and Rachel Roberts.

The fact that we cannot always work out what’s going on does not necessarily diminish the overall effect. Despite its faults, it is impossible not to both like and admire the production.

Some of it does fall short. The ending is a definite letdown, being something of a fudge; the jarring contrast between the realistic and fantastic elements is never successfully negotiated.

picky note

It is also not much of a spoiler to say that Percival will be called upon to slay the Jabberwock; however, in a narrative that is about a man’s inability to relate to the women in his life, achieving self-actualisation by literally stabbing a woman with a sword is not necessarily a great look. And on a supremely picky note, a play based so heavily on Jabberwocky should surely not make the common mistake of sticking an extra ‘r in ‘borogoves’.

There is so much invention here that this has to be applauded for its sincerity and ambition, even if the end result can be chaotic.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Olive Studio), 6 Infirmary St, EH1 1LT (Venue 236)
Monday 14 – Saturday 26 August 2023
Daily (not 20) at 12.45 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.

Kestrel Eye Productions links

Instagram: @kestreleyeproductions

Twitter: @kestrel_eye

Facebook: @Kestrel Eye Productions

A scene from Sir Percival and the Jabberwock. Pic Jo Wildman



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.