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Afterwards, I asked them what they thought.
The younger one said it was both funny and scary. True.
The main character, Otto, is a pre-teen who lives with his sister, parents and chain-smoking Icelandic granny. His nerdiness is funny, in a way appropriate to 1997 when the play is set. But things take a scary turn when Otto, who is at a new school and does not like it much, starts spending more time than is good for him on the internet (remember those dial-up noises and clunky graphics?). Sensing his unhappiness, granny insists that trolls don’t just belong in old tales — they can be anywhere. Otto’s troll seems to be living in the wall, but might also be understood as an internet troll or a metaphor for his insecurities.The older teenager thought the light effects were the best thing. They were for me, too.
Trick of the Light is known for its ingenious use of lights, puppets and paper cut-outs, and once again used them to illustrate the tale, add atmosphere and provide surprises, demonstrating how much can be achieved with low-tech equipment and loads of ingenuity.
Ralph McCubbin Howell, who also wrote the script, brings life and humour to the part of troubled Otto, who eventually comes to realise (yay!) that trolls are scared of light. The other person on the stage is Hannah Smith, who plays sister Erica and assists with just about everything else.
The programme notes say this is "still a work in development" and asks for feedback. Well, I do think the script could use a little more polish, heightening both the funny and the scary bits, but the light effects are clever, exquisite and, in this high-tech age, unusual — so I hope Howell will keep them just as they are.
- Barbara Frame
Fortune Theatre Friday, April 13