Feral

In a beautifully executed smorgasbord of puppetry, art, sound and film, Tortoise In A Nutshell in association with Cumbernauld Theatre presents a tale of small seaside-town destruction. Joe and Dawn move onto new beginnings along with their mother and find themselves in what can only be described as the most idealised town ever conceived by man (complete with butcher, baker and pre-Victorian lighting emporium).

Constructed before our eyes with quirky card models, the town is brought to life through focused filming of particular areas as the charming yet strangely haunting puppets go about their daily business. To watch this miniature town buzz and thrive is a real joy, particularly with ambient sound being created live by one man and his many tools. So much effort has gone into creating an immersive atmosphere and the cherry on top is the spraying of scent to conjure up the seaside carnival.

The coming of ‘The Supercade’ heralds doom for the whimsy. Joe, young and naïve, believes the new arcade to be full to the brim with superheroes; Dawn, on the other hand, understands that no good may come from its arrival. Slowly, their world converts into a grotesque parody of impoverished small-town Britain: family-run businesses close in favour of job centres and payday loan shops; drunks litter the street; the church gains rude graffiti. The decline snowballs until looting and rioting run rampant.

This is all stunning as a work of art. Once the novelty wears off, however, the narrative is a tad too thin to carry the production in its capacity as story. We see rather too little of our heroes for the climax to be as tragic as it intends to be. The point becomes rather laboured in the latter stages, too, lingering just that little bit too long on certain images, the messages of which were immediately obvious.

To watch Feral is almost to watch a live-action stop-motion animation. The story may be thin, but the aesthetic and method are truly excellent and thoroughly entertaining to behold. Though the bite is lacking, the bark is sweet and melodious.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

The Blurb

We have created Utopia - time to put it to the test. Feral is innovative visual theatre combing puppetry, film and live sound. Creating and destroying a world in front of your eyes.

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