Platform, The Bridge, Glasgow
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Frozen Light are very specific when it comes to their intended audience: this small, impressively resourceful group make work especially for people with PMLD – that is, people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. The Forest, their current touring production, does have a story-line, albeit a deliberately slender one. However,keeping track of why Robin and Thea have ventured into woods where no townies ever go, isn’t ever the over-riding function of this show. As a predominantly multi-sensory performance, with interactive elements, The Forest is really about the sharing of moment-by-moment experiences.
As soon as you step into the space, you’re in a leafy glade where upturned logs – along with the cleverly printed mats and cushion covers – set the scene. Ivy (a genial Lucy Garland) voices and signs the linking narrative, introduces the two lonely people who seek private solace either in music (Al Watts as Robin) or writing (Amber Onat Gregory as Thea) before a kindly wind blows them into Ivy’s forest. Whoosh! flurries of paper strips swirl over all of us, like fleeting snow. Soon, we’re being invited to smell woody branches, sit cocooned in our own little foliage tent or savour the taste, the chewy feel of a dried apricot. A full-on storm is whipped up over our heads – complete with gale-force sound effects and genuinely wet mizzle. The latter produces glee and excitement in the special needs youngsters – only three of them, with their carers, because Frozen Light make a point of engaging with each person on an individual basis.
The whole team make what is a very sophisticated, caringly crafted mixture of music and other sensory elements seem fresh, artless and above all unthreatening and rather magical.
The Forest can be found at Dundee Rep today (Friday October 30). www.dundeerep.co.uk