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Review of Synaes Theatre’s Raven at The Space

RavenSynaes Theatre presented an innovative and stylish theatrical work performed in dance and movement. The five young performers played out their story with minimal set and narrative and a provocative soundscape which functioned as both narrative and sixth cast member.

A story is told of a kingdom thrown out of balance by feuding brothers after their mother’s death. The Queen had maintained equilibrium by recognising and honouring the importance of both the clock of time and the natural world. Before she died, she gave a gift to each of her sons. To one she gave the clock of time, and to the other, the staff which had connected her to the natural world.

The son with the clock understood the importance of time and how it could be used to increase prosperity, but saw no value in nature. Thus he declared himself King and banished his brother from the kingdom.

From this point, Synaes divided the stage to represent the two worlds and difficulty of passage from one to the other.

The story unfolded with the effect of the growing greed and domination of the King upon his citizens and specifically a mother and her two young daughters. As the power increasingly corrupts the King, he becomes greedy, exploitative and abusive.

Faith, the elder daughter is drawn by her discontent and the moonlight to explore the natural world and comes upon Pan, the other brother. Faith is enchanted by both him and his mystical ethereal land and finds it impossible to abandon this “otherness”. She battles to uphold her duty to her family and King whilst recognising how destructive and abusive he is becoming. Both she and her sister fall prey to his aggression and perversity.

On the evening of my visit, there were technical difficulties with dry ice which then had to be eliminated from the performance. This did not outwardly phase the cast but I did wonder if they were challenged by the unexpected focus of the audience, especially as it is such an intimate space. At times they appeared to make eye contact and not at others. I was left feeling a clear decision needed to be made as to whether or not they wished to maintain the fourth wall.

The show is experimental and courageous but still has a feel of a work in progress about it rather than the finished article. There are some things that would greatly enhance the production without detracting from its juxtaposition between simplicity and complexity. The soundscape with the ticking clock was demanding and demonstrated the urgency with which the people had to function and go about their daily lives. However, were the movements of the characters performed in adherence to the ticking it would have tightened the performance and made it even more compelling.

The simplicity and naïveté of the costumes worked on the whole but I did feel a huge opportunity was missed by not exploiting the make up. As it is a mythical story, it could have been a make-up artists dream to develop these characters and their whimsy, and really explore the phantasmagoric worlds in which they were caught.

This was a truly enjoyable production and it is a delight to see a young company forging ahead with such imagination and creativity. The performers all did an excellent job but a special mention must go to both Maria Valazquez and Annabel Brooke who were both so charismatic in their performances. I very much look forward to hearing more from this company in the future.

3 Star Review

Review by Lesley Bardell

What happens when we sacrifice ourselves for those we adore? How do the tribulations of decision-making transform the fabric of who we are, forever?

SynaesTheatre are delighted to announce their second show, Raven, which will premiere this August at the Space in East London. Presented as a scratch performance at the venue in late 2014, the fully-staged version marks both the company and the production’s debut on the London Fringe.

Raven spins a story of mythic symbolism. We see a family crushed by the greed of the king, as he seeks to fulfill his own lonely and twisted desires. The protagonist Faith moves between the two worlds on stage – Time and Nature. She falls in love with the goat god Pan, and seeks to find a way to save her family. The company use movement, dance and soundscapes, creating an enchanting experience for audiences, set upon an originally composed tapestry of sound.

Enigmatic and playful, SynaesTheatre are a young company, focusing primarily on devising. They strive to create nuanced, sense provoking theatre through innovative movement, characters and narrative.

SynaesTheatre and The Space both have a dedicated interest in community outreach. The company will be running workshops that will run alongside performances. These will be offered on a ‘pay what you can’ basis, using the show as a starting point for young people from local groups to explore the theme of ‘decision making’, and to meet professional theatremakers.

The Space
18 August – 29 August, 2015

Sunday 23rd August 2015


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