Love's Labour's Lost. As one of Shakespeare's more verbally dexterous plays I found that silent treatment to have mixed results, but now in a new production at Southwark Playhouse' Vault they present a simpler story, devised by the company. A group of refugees is trudging through a frozen Russian forest. Exhausted, deaf Tamil refugee Tanika (Nadia Nadarajah) collapses in the snow, refusing her guide's (Graeme Brookes) attempts to give her food. As she appears to have given up, she flashes back to her earlier life in Sri Lanka with her family (Mouna Albakry, Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke) and English BSL teacher Edward (Matthew Gurney) who convinces her she needs to try and flee to London; as well as slipping into fantasies of her future life should she finally manage to complete her journey.
Tanika's Journey moves between spoken English, BSL, and a combination of the two to tell its story. If Love's Labour's Lost reminded me of a silent movie, Tanika's Journey is a bit more like a dance piece (Frantic Assembly's Naomi Said is credited as a movement consultant.) So, like a ballet, the story is told through often elegant movement, and as an audience member who doesn't know any BSL I wasn't alienated, although I felt like I was perhaps missing a few of the story's subtleties.
Tanika's Journey by Deafinitely Theatre is booking until the 20th of October at Southwark Playhouse's Vault.
Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes straight through.
1the production is geared towards both deaf and hearing audiences, although it might want to spare a thought for the blind as well since it might accidentally create a few more of them: Audience members sitting on the far bank of seating have to traverse a hazardous path through the trees.