Writer: Nikky Norton Shafau
Director: Chris Sudworth
Reviewer: Laura Maley
The Public Reviews Rating:
Digging Deep is the result of Nikky Norton Shafau’s winning pitch in 2011 to the Flying Solo judging panel at Contact Theatre. A year after winning, she returns to show Manchester how she has developed her original idea.
With a stunning performance, Sky (Norton Shafau) takes the audience on the most surreal of dreamlike journeys, with a smidgen of Tinie Tempah here, a chase with an ice cream van-driving polar bear, a whole other world full of places like Brown Yard and Grey Town and a towering library.
Arriving, we find Sky in bed, struggling – and failing – to sleep. She has been awake for six months and has a recurring dream (though it seems more like a nightmare). She reveals a fragile mental state and we realise quite how fragile by the story she tells and begins to inhabit.
I find it hard to tell which parts of the piece are dream and which bits ‘real’ and I wonder if it’s a deliberate feature to makes the audience question their own perceptions of reality. In a similar way, I find that the thread of the narrative becomes a little crowded – especially when layered with the many sound clips. In the main the sound is very good and creatively used, but on balance I would have preferred a little less of it. Likewise, much of the piece is Sky reacting to things. Nikky Norton Shafau gives an exceptional performance, but there is a touch too much of Sky’s reactions and the pace is a little too fast sometimes.
Digging Deep seems a technically tricky show, with much credit to director Chris Sudworth and the technical team as the timing is largely precisely managed by sound, lighting crew and performer.
This solo theatre piece explores sound and light creatively, as well as the capacity of a solo performer to engage the audience. When that performer is as watchable as Nikky Norton Shafau, you don’t need much else on stage.
Reviewed on 3rd March 2012
Digging Deep: The Adventures of Sky the Reluctant Hero – Contact, Manchester,