Cartography

This is a story of Sarah, a lover of maps and trigonometry. She’s afraid to travel and see the world she only knows on paper because she has a hole in her heart. So she lives a quiet life working in her dead father’s map shop instead, until she meets John, someone who dreams of travelling.

Folksy, warm and engaging, this work by developing performers shows promise of things to come.

Cartography is written and directed by Tom Briggs and performed by Lincoln Company in association with Flickbook theatre. It’s a charming performance featuring a ukulele, diagrams explaining the inner workings of human hearts, and a countdown of Sarah’s heartbeats.

It’s that kind of unashamedly, slightly twee, but ultimately uplifting style of storytelling that seems to be in fashion at the moment — certainly I’ve seen a lot of it at various fringe festivals. It bears some thematic similarities to the Flanagan Collective’spiece Fable (which I reviewed mere days earlier). Performers Becky Sowter, Tom Briggs, Phoebe Wall-Palmer and Jozey Wade work together well in sharing the story. I enjoyed the storytelling style and the simple staging, which included some songs on the ukulele, projected hand-drawn images, and some use of microphones to create the world Sarah inhabits.

A receptive audience and lovely performers created a warm environment and we were willing to forgive some production elements that still need to be smoothed out. The audience participation is a nice touch, but perhaps needs better integration with the performance. The decision to play some dialogue from the rear of the audience, using a microphone, seemed strange and without clear purpose. A key moment missing from the script is when Sarah and John get together. This is narrated after the fact and I would have liked to see the moment played out before us.

Folksy, warm and engaging, this work by developing performers shows promise of things to come.

Reviews by Emma Gibson

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A tattered map. Outdated, well-loved, and a nightmare to fold. Sarah is busy dying, counting down her heartbeats until her untimely death. She is studying maps of places she never intends to go. John is driven to travel by the need to be someone interesting. He is drawing lines across continents, counting the borders he'll cross and the cities he'll see. Both are looking for a future when they meet each other. Through song, string and a bright red anorak, this is a show that asks if we'll know happiness when we get there.

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