Thursday, 17 June 2004

The Pelican Solos by Trefor Gare, June 17, 2004

The Pelican Solos by Trefor Gare 
by Eclectic Pelican
Chapel off Chapel, June 17 to 27, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Man's historic fascination with flight becomes an obsession in Icarus, Naked With Feathers , Part One of a program called The Pelican Solos.

Trefor Gare is alone on stage in Icarus but plays multiple roles. The central character is a dotty professor, a lecturer in Mediaeval physics, who is engaged in a university research project to develop a heavier than air flying machine. Gare also plays the professor's faithful assistant who secretly dotes on him.

Another character is the pompous Dean of the faculty who summons the professor into his office to admonish or praise him for his mad flights of fancy. Another is a chirpy, blues singing bird who is captured by the Professor who believes he can plunder its secrets of flight. The bird's song is a peculiar collage of contemporary music.

Gare performs on a an empty stage with a beautifully rendered canvas backdrop derived from Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings of man and his flying machines. One of the most successful elements of the play is Gare's physical creation through mime of one flying machine after another: canvas and wood, feathers and glue and, finally, four steam engines.

The Professor cannot penetrate the aerial secrets of the bird he caged nor of Leonardo's Renaissance designs for magnificent flying machines.

When each flight fails, Gare uses an effective theatrical device. As the professor leaps, a spotlight focuses on Gare's two fingers that become a micro image of the Professor falling through air to earth.

There is a wonderful moment of lighting magic when Gare flaps his wings and his shadow on the Leonardo backdrop appears to be a bird in flight.

The multiple characters could be better defined. As Gare shifts from Professor to Assistant, from Dean to Bird, his voices need greater differentiation and physicality could be clearer in each change. Some of the dialogue needs editing and a more extensive soundscape might fill a few flat moments.

Gare is an engaging and warm performer who steps in and out of the theatrical landscape to guide us through his world.

Icarus, Naked With Feathers gives us a quirky insight into the obsession of pre-aeroplane inventors with flight.

Part Two of the Pelican Solos, King's Player, runs from 23 to 27 June.

LOOK FOR: The illusion of flight in shadow

By Kate Herbert

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