A space at Summerhall has been transformed into a forest. Karen Tennent’s set design, supported by Simon Wilkinson’s lights and music from the company, is simply sublime. We are surrounded by trees with foil balloons in the sky, woodchips beneath our feet and the smell of mint in the air. It is truly breathtaking and I’ll resist further descriptions as it’s best experienced directly, with all five senses activated.
Director Finn den Hertog’s vision is extraordinary making this a fairy tale on a grand scale
Inspired by the novel by Shane Jones, Light Boxes is an immersive fairy tale from Grid Iron Theatre Company. Within this extraordinary world we follow the story of a family as their ordinary life crumbles. Bianca (Vicki Manderson), wearer of yellow wellingtons and lover of balloons, lives with her mum, Selah (Melody Grove) and dad, Thaddeus (Keith Macpherson), who is a builder of flying machines.
As the cold weather of an endless February approaches, flying is forbidden. Flying machines, birds, balloons and even literature depicting flight is banned due to the holes appearing in the sky. The family tries to cope in their own way, soothing Bianca’s nerves with mint tea and painting kites on her arms. A group of activists who wear bird masks and call themselves ‘The Solution’ try to fight February, which by now, has lasted for hundreds of days.
Using storytelling, movement and song, this is a magical story. As it becomes darker and more hopeless the storytellers struggle to maintain their grip on the words. They challenge one another, reminding us that if a storyteller can hold a story, then surely they can change it too?
Director Finn den Hertog’s vision is extraordinary making this a fairy tale on a grand scale. The performances are exceptional and Michael John McCarthy’s music adds a wonderful layer.
Is the lavish set necessary to convey the story? Well, no. If the true strength of a work rests on its ability to be told in a simple black space, then this show’s evocative descriptions would convey the world just as well. However by transporting us to this splendid place, it brings alive the book and ensures this is a theatrical experience we will remember for years to come.
As we leave, we are each given a mint - an olfactory mnemonic to take with us as we return to the real world.