This review was originally written for The Public Review.
A TV sits in the middle of the stage with an arc of cushion surrounding it like a children’s sleepover party. On the screen, there is a simply drawn circle that begins a series of stylistic illustrations by Serge Seidlitz which is animated by Thomas Eccleshare, who also performs. Based on the 14th Century Middle English poem Pearl, the story is about memories and grieving, getting over loss and moving on. The symptoms of the depression is set out at first and it leads us gently to the cause, presented with a whimsical sense of humour.
The performance is led by the animation which crosses over to Eccleshare’s silent act with some interesting use of the audience. Some of the he action flows in and out of the animation and plays with flexibility and boundary of the medium. There is a distinctively lo-fi and nostalgic feel to the production with the use of VHS and CRT television that also reflects on the animation itself. The whole piece evokes the feeling of a lullaby with its soothing and gentle music accompanying the performance. The tempo is ponderous in parts and while some of the repetitiveness mirrors the way memories operate, it feels a little over used at times. The overall atmosphere is well maintained but the sense of grief is diluted by some of the cleverness of the show.
Eccleshare is a charming performer and has created a very likable piece. The end is nicely concluded by a short extract from poem which this work is based. The style and overall tone of the production is distinctive and the beautiful tenderness and warmth lingers long after.