• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 2:45am

Hello, cruel world

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 June, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 June, 1993, 12:00am

ON a hot, sticky night at the Old Mental Hospital in Western the first production of a company called Plastic Bags took place.

It was a fascinating piece of elliptical theatre entitled Fish Can Fly And So Can Reindeer; and it was performed by Angie Alderman as Holly, a young woman whose world of fantasy was often confused with reality. The audience followed the action, literally, from one room to another.

The first scene was played in a room that looked as though it were somebody's flat, and the audience sat on the carpet.

Between two pillars stood what appeared to be an altar - religious images cropped up frequently. The ''altar'' cloth was raised to reveal Holly, like a child, hiding under a table. she was playing with a colourful cardboard box, and repeatedly muttering, ''Fourteen hundred and ninety two: Columbus sailed the ocean . . .'' As a child, Holly knew for certain that reindeer could fly at Christmas, and that one of them had a shiny nose. Was this very different from the adult discovery that some reindeer glowed from radioactive fall-out? One of the play's themes was expressed in Holly's ever-growing belief that ''everything's connected''.

A link between the past and the present was hinted at in a prayer which, like Christopher Robin's, began with ''God bless Mummy'' but ended with a plea to save the starving in Africa, as well as the reindeer.

In a second room, a large piece of raw meat, of a size usually seen in a butcher's shop rather than in a domestic kitchen, was hanging from a hook. On taking the meat down, cuddling it and dancing with it, Miss Alderman evoked an assortment of biblical and sensual images. There was also a suggestion, perhaps, of trying to make amends on behalf of the human race for its slaughter of and cruelty to animals.

Later, on a huge sheet of paper, Holly fiercely painted a life-sized representation of her boyfriend, with whom she had had a row over the question of having their cat neutered. Holly's reaction was to cut the genitals from the painting and snip them topieces with scissors.

Then, a few strips of tape across the gaping hole sufficed to show how inadequate we are at repairing serious damage to each other.

Other startling images abounded: of how badly we behave to our fellow beings, as well as to other creatures. Alderman's thoroughly believable performance, full of integrity, was absolutely vital to make this a powerful, thought-provoking piece.

Lindsey McAlister, who is brilliant at drawing out the best in performers of limited experience, directed the play with great sensitivity and assurance.


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive




SCMP.com Account