Most people know at least the odd line from Samuel Taylor’s epic poem from 1798, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Few people may remember the story of the Ancient Mariner who becomes lost at sea and sees a magnificent Albatross. It seems a good omen, but the mariner kills it. The ship then remains lost at sea and the mariner loses his whole crew. He alone lives to tell his tale to others.
Square Peg’s award winning adaptation is a circus, movement and poetry extravaganza.
Square Peg’s award winning adaptation is a circus, movement and poetry extravaganza. Production Designer Lise Marker has designed a fantastic set. A large metal structure forms as the masts and rigging of the Mariner’s ship and is set at an angle to the audience suggesting its trajectory through the ocean. Whilst the lighting provided by William Ingham creates a beautiful golden haze, suggesting morning dew and shifting fluidly from dawn to dusk. Meanwhile the acrobatics are top notch and create many a gasp. Be it from Antonio Harris’ daring antics on the Chinese pole, Isabelle Schuster’s various and enchanting aerial skills or Hege Eriksdatter-Ostefjells’s precision on the Aerial Rope, singing a folk ballad beautifully as she goes. Other highlights include standing and balancing on someone’s head and the powerful acrobatic duet from Jean-Daniel Broussé and Nikki Rummer.
There’s also a fantastic moment where choreographer Martin Corri excels and that is when someone essentially becomes the ship’s rigging and is tossed around the sailors as they ready the ship. The costume design is also very likable with the characters all decked out in seafaring gear mixed with the odd pilot’s hat. They could be Studio Ghibli Sky Sailors. It’s a lovely steampunk visual style which compliments the fun and abstract storytelling well.
There are a few moments where the show can feel a bit disjointed, where movement pieces occasionally seem out of place and music styles sometimes seem to clash as much as they complement. With so much happening, you may struggle to know what’s going on if you’re not familiar with The Ancient Mariner. But the premise is there in the programme and even if you get lost in the narrative, you’ll still enjoy the spectacle.
Square Peg’s Rime is a beautiful and adventurous interpretation of a literary classic that is breath-taking and highly enjoyable. Keep a look out for a future revival and see what Square Peg come up with next. They’re a company to look out for.