Credit: Paul Blakemore
As one families life falls apart, the village community sees the sky vanish around them. It’s a rather heavy metaphor that sums up Out of Sky, Splint Theatres debut production as the 2016 Made In Bristol company. Bold, ambitious and with moments of powerful stagecraft, it also strays into the overtly literal, the earnest and lacks at times a strong authorial voice and identity.
It is split across two different location, in a world of ‘Merrie Olde England’, of long midsummer days and maypole dances, where the worst thing that can happen is hitting the wrong key in choir practice until one day one family suffers the earth shattering grief of loss and the world of the village is plunged directly into darkness.
We bounce back and forth between the village and the home and both don’t fully convince. The comedy of the village is eccentric but never chuckle-some while the grief the family feel is only partially realised, with one or two shaky performances distracting from the clear cold moments of truth. Attention to detail could sometimes be better, for example dressing someone up in a coat that dwarfs him doesn’t suggest Dad but of a young son playing dress up in his wardrobe. However there are moments of great poetic power in the company devised text while the haunting melodies from the musicians are lushly and elegantly brought to life. Their is some skill in building the end up to a powerful climax before an unnecessary coda fudges its elegance somewhat.
The companies voice will develop and mature as these theatre makers go off to drama school, university or along their own path and it is encouraging to see them tackle such a weighty subject with great imagination even if not always as yet great execution. Noel Coward once said that he learnt to be a playwright by first writing twenty plays. You feel the next one may take them closer to discovering what it is exactly they are looking to make and how to go about doing this.