ANTLER have created the story of a girl called Crab (Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart) who lives in a snowy wilderness with her brother Narwhal (Daniel Ainsworth), who one day leave the safe confines of their village, stepping over the forbidden line, to find out where the white stops. With four actors, one small light and an excessive amount of knitwear, a whole alternative reality is created.
I really can’t articulate how creative this show is: put it this way, they simulate a full-blown snowstorm with only their voices and the artful flapping of coats and scarves. What’s more, you believe it. The musical accompaniment is provided acapella by four harmonising voices and is reminiscent of a good film score, always present in the background helping to create effect and atmosphere without being obtrusive. Where The White Stops is just as much a feast for the eyes as the ears. The intense physicality of the production is immediately notable, characters lift and throw one another as though they are as light as flakes of snow; each movement is impeccably choreographed.
On their epic journey through the wild, Crab and Narwhal encounter even more bizarre characters, from the diffident Wodwo (Nasi Voustas) and the one-armed carpenter Brown (Daniela Pasquini), to tyrannical, feather-bedecked King Soft Face (Ainsworth) and his intended bride Elja (Pasquini). There is a strong sense of the fantastical and the fairytale about Where The White Stops, though it is far too bizarre to fit into any traditional fairytale mould.
The lawless lands of the White are plagued by a fearsome Beast who must be placated occasionally with human sacrifice. The ominous presence of The Beast on the edges of the stage is genuinely unsettling; keeping appearances brief and shadow-shrouded was a good decision. The audience only gets glimpses of it so can be fully invested in the characters’ fear of this unknowable devil.
Created and expanded from a childlike story, conveyed with minimal props, non-existent set and a compact team of actors, Where The White Stops does more with virtually nothing than far fussier, more cluttered productions. Funny, clever, creative, absorbing, oddly entrancing.