REVIEW: Yearwalk

Joanna Taylor and Tom Whittaker get pissed, go to the ADC and find out what they get up to in Girton.

ADC Cambridge Corpus Playroom Dance drinking game fairy tales girton interpretive dance late show performance review Theatre thespian yearwalk

Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix-up from the lovely people at The Tab this week, meaning that Tom and I were told the opening night of Yearwalk was Tuesday. It was in fact 11pm on Wednesday, when we’d already planned to go to Cindies.

One of six fabulous directors, Rute Costa, joked that we should pre-drink Yearwalk then go to Cindies afterwards. But to us, it was no joke. Therefore, The Tab presents to you, an ADC first: the Yearwalk drinking game.

The night started with Tom and I returning from Julian Assange at the Union, and needing a stiff drink (or three) to digest what he had to say. We then made our way to the ADC (occasionally breaking into ‘Angels’- Pembroke students will know) and tried to look as sober as possible; perhaps not helped by accidentally sitting at someone else’s table at the ADC bar.

Then- into the show. Masked figures: lions, wolves, boars, men in those pig masks you sometimes get on Doctor Who, lurked in the shadows of the auditorium, creating a nightmarish setting and inviting us immediately into the magical fantasy-world of Yearwalk.

How to get a-head in theatre – giant horse masks

The concept of modernising, or re-imagining, fairytales and folklore is a fairly familiar one to the modern reader: Angela Carter and Carol Ann Duffy, amongst others, have done it. For the first couple of scenes it appeared that Yearwalk was going to be much of the same: Cinderella protests for worker’s rights outside the ball, rather than going in with her socialite step-sisters…it’s a bit trite but I like that Cinderella doesn’t fall in love with the prince (despite him joining the protest with a ‘Piss off princes’ sign).

Beyond this, however, the play got better and better (and not just because of increased inebriation). Edgy coloured lighting and live music from, amongst other things, a sitar, meant that the Persian, carnivalesque atmosphere of Ali Baba and the forty thieves was created perfectly, further complemented by the infusion of acrobatics and interpretative dance.

My head started spinning at this point…

The weaving together of the stories was also effective: the ‘Every time a good directing decision is made- drink.’ rule was certainly capitalised on. More sinister episodes in the forest pervade the main scenes, almost as if they are balanced throughout on the edge of our consciousness. The drawing away of a newly-married bride to fairy-land and particularly the re-telling of ‘The Red Shoes’ stood out as genuinely innovative and highly entertaining scenes, particularly impressive given that this show is student written.

Foxy lady

The mixed-mode ensamble was a solid directing choice; credit must go to producer Florrie Priest and all six directors, as well as the various other stage-managers, musical co-ordinators and costume designers who produced the ethereal, Midsummer Night’s Dreamy ambience, which left me more light-headed than the pre-show wine.

The acting was generally strong, and the talents of the cast in other areas such as dancing, pretending to play the flute, and making a fairy-god mother delightfully camp, made for a multifaceted visual experience, which was less of a play and more of a plethora of ideas. Zoe Barnes as the evil step-mother and woman of the forest was excellent, as was Katie Robertson as the quirky elfin temptress; Elise Limon’s Red Shoes dance was certainly better than anything we’d ever seen at Cindies.

A scene that could be outside any May Ball…

In all, I’d say that the five or six pounds you’d spend on Yearwalk this week would make for a better night out than paying to get into a club- and, as Tom and I have proved, you can always do both. Tom had to get up at six this morning to do coxing at the boat club, and is therefore unavailable for comment beyond ‘there’s a big difference between half twelve and quarter to one’ which is what time the show ended, and I’d agree- the Cinderella scenes at the beginning could have been cut down to make room for more of the magical and sublime.

Aside from that though, Yearwalk was a lot of fun and the drinking game quickly became superfluous- a marvellous and intrepid exploration of fairy stories and folklore. 

4/5 stars