reviewed at the Hostry Festival, Norwich on 24 October
Lighthouses are beacons of safety. They are positioned to warn of submerged hazards and the tumultuous seas which crash over them. Refuges – but perhaps in some ways they are also prisons.
This year’s Hostry Festival organisers, the PBSK Partnership in association with the University of East Anglia and Booja Booja, have commissioned an immersive piece of movement theatre from Total Ensemble Theatre Company and Rebecca Chapman.
With the audience on all four sides of the acting area, sounds, lighting and storm-seas colours for the simple costumes focus our concentration on the drama. The title character, played by Hugh Darrah, is a solitary teenager, who cannot remember a time when the lighthouse was not his restricting shelter.
On the disused pier which abuts it a solitary semi-automaton fortune-teller (Aamer Raza) also seeks identity answers. As does an old mariner (Peter Barrow) nursing the remains of his pet crow (Lexi Watson-Samuels). But the sea is cruel, and its currents do not always follow human intentions.
The boy’s quest leads him to hot, war-torn countries where answers need to be pieced out of fragments. The fortune-teller also will gain the knowledge – and the peace – which he craves. It is very suitable that the myths of the sea and the distant lands to which it leads are here drawn from many cultures.
Four star rating
The Boy in the Lighthouse runs at the Hostry, Norwich Cathedral until 27 October.