I’m still a little giddy with excitement that The Tropicana is going through a rebirth, and is currently hosting a season of pop up theatre. Last night, myself and a friend took our six and nine year old daughters to ‘Theatre@The Bay’ to see Fine Chisel’s show Neither There Nor Here. This show took place in the surprisingly intimate setting of the bar rather than the main theatre space and there was a warm and welcoming atmosphere from the off.
As the lights dimmed, Tom Spencer, George Williams and Andy Kelly who make up the company burst into the room, and the show began at breakneck speed. These travellers have a story they want to tell us, and a warning to give about the beast who has been following them on their travels. Through song and storytelling, they recount the tale of their journey so far through our beautiful Somerset landscape and their want to find a place to stay and a place to belong.
This sounds very earnest and serious, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled; this is a riot of a show, and very funny. Neither There Nor Here is a little bit silly, surreal in places and thoroughly entertaining. Tom, George and Andy are all excellent musicians, and the songs work perfectly. Some made us laugh, some made us feel wistful and our feet were stomping and tapping throughout.
There is lots of audience participation in this show. I’m not normally mad keen on audience participation; I’ve been to some shows where we’ve been forced to join in and those moments were toe curlingly cringey. However, in Neither There Nor Here this really wasn’t the case. The audience is central to the performance and our participation was celebrated. We all wanted to take part, revelled in making the sound effects and being creative with that. For my six year old, joining in with the show was probably the thing she loved most about it all. We banged on the tables as percussion to the final song, she scrunched her crisp packet to create the sound effect of an ancient tree come to life in the forest, and the old gallery space once occupied by Banksy and his pals echoed with the sound of a parliament of owls that the audience conjoured up. We felt like part of it, we were welcomed in and included in the tale.
The show has an age recommendation of 8+ so I took a risk bringing my 6 year old to it. Although she was a little scared by the plot of the beast who is seemingly persuing the travellers, she quickly forgot her fear as she was drawn into the story. The actors make use of all the space, walking amongst our tables and interacting with us. And they made a special effort to draw in the younger members of the audience whilst staying at their pace, which I really appreciated. She loved it. I loved it. We giggled, we sang, we growled and we hooted. And we had a really, really brilliant night.
Neither There Nor Here is on for one more night at The Bay, and then moves to the Star and Dove in Totterdown for a week straight after Christmas.
Review by Karen Blake