Tortoise in a Nutshell lift physical performance to the next level in Fisk
- Gareth K Vile
- 25 January 2017
Latest work goes above and beyond traditional notion of an 'issue play', embodying heartfelt spectacle
Edinburgh-based company Tortoise in a Nutshell have had a long term association with Puppet Animation Scotland: after opening this year's manipulate festival (which PAS produce), they are taking their latest production, Fisk, on a tour across the country throughout February. While their work can be described as 'visual theatre', their restless and dynamic approach to performance has ensured that each of their productions has adapted different approaches, making their style hard to pin down.
For Fisk, artistic director Ross MacKay says, 'we started out just with an image of a man on a boat and a fish. We didn't have any preconceptions of the theme. But as we continued to explore the piece we realised that time and again the imagery drew parallels to depression. Rather than run from that, we decided to go for it.' Typically, however, the company incorporated new elements.
'One of the biggest departures here was working with an incredible movement director, Darren Brownlie,' MacKay continues. 'We have never worked so expressively with our bodies. Usually the performance is left to the puppets!' Brownlie is perhaps best known for his work on the Tron pantomime in Glasgow but has also become a familiar face within Scotland's contemporary dance companies.
Brownlie's arrival is an example of Tortoise's commitment to expanding their performance vocabulary, and exploring how far visual elements, from puppetry to choreography, can combine to create a theatrical spectacle. Fisk addresses some serious issues – depression and recovery – yet their physical performances lend the show an epic, poetic resonance that transcend the idea of 'the issue play' to provide something both heartfelt and symbolic.
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 9–Sat 11 Feb; Platform, Glasgow, Mon 20 Feb