The Beautiful Journey at Oceana inWallsend
The Beautiful Journey at Oceana in Wallsend, until Saturday, August 8 (except Monday).
REALLY, the less you know about this production the better.
I’d prefer to say go and experience it yourself. But that won’t fill this space. So if you won’t look away now, here’s a quick introduction to the weird and wonderful world of Queen Kalypso, created by outdoor theatre specialists Wildworks in the shape of a shanty town on the Tyne banks.
Wildworks weaves in a North-East thread while working from a core story set in the future on an island where water is scarce, bees have disappeared (which we know spells doom for humanity) and Kalypso (Agnieszka Blonska) is freaked by the thought of the boat-builder journeying to other shores.
As we arrive, alongside new residents Godfrey and daughter Rosa, at the shanty town – decorated with worn curtains, odd lampshades, cracked mirrors, potted plants and old photographs – Hermes (Samuel Gardes), like a playful master of ceremonies, dangles from scaffolding as he reveals there’s a story to discover behind fiery Kalypso’s feud with sister Kassandra (Sue Hill).
As the sky darkens and the moon comes out, we accompany the assortment of bizarrely-dressed characters on a walkabout – but you need be quick to get a good view.
The call of seagulls only adds to the musical backdrop of a band and choir as characters mingle with the audience, talking to each other from atop buildings while we swivel full circle to catch their words.
But really the story is secondary to the sheer spectacle: Kassandra being hoisted high in the air by a crane, for instance; and the flame-lit procession to the riverside where a boat is launched on a journey of hope.
(Well, we hope it turned out well – it sped off on a strong Tyne current).
And, in probably the most enjoyable interval ever, you can get a drink at the shanty bar, join the band for a quick tune, have a tarot card reading or pick from a dressing up box and have your photograph taken against a choice of backdrops.
I also liked the metal emu and saw a baby ‘using’ the memory projector. Told you it was hard to explain.
Perhaps the best advice is to expect the unexpected and, with freakish rain storms one day this week, that includes the weather. But no brollies – they’re banned on Queen Kalypso’s island. And you really wouldn’t want to argue with her.
:: For tickets call (0191) 454-1234 or visit www.customshouse.co.uk