All too often we get hung up on the conventions of theatre. The formal, unwritten rules that keep performer and audience separate shape our theatre going. While for those new to theatre those conventions can be off-putting, for those with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) those conventions can literally be a barrier to attending the arts altogether.
Frozen Light’s The Forest removes any such barriers, creating a truly inclusive piece of theatre that brings audience and performer into one united world. It’s a world full of multi-sensory experience with touch, smell, sound and light playing as an important part in the storytelling as the words.
This forest is a magical place, its caretaker Ivy taking many forms to guide visitors through the wooded glade. While the woods may be magical, in the nearby town things are more mundane with a write Thea, lost for words and a street performer Robin feeling something is missing from his life. As Ivy draws the pair into the woods the trees begin to weave their magic and both realise that a different path lies ahead.
It’s a simple tale but one given more than a generous sprinkling of theatrical magic by the Frozen Light team. Their engaging and inclusive style involves each and every member of the audience, from songs naming the audience one by one through to clever use of props and sensory experiences; this is the ultimate 3D live interactive performance.
Performers Amber Onat Gregory, Lucy Garland and Al Watts are a delightful ensemble to watch, tweaking each interaction to the specific needs of their audience. It creates an atmosphere that values the audience as part of the journey and it’s clear from the joy expressed by participants that it’s a technique that pays dividends.
There are moments of sheer theatrical beauty – a night time scene, complete with interior lit helium balloons giving way to an impressive cacophony of a storm, complete with wind and rain being particularly effective, though some of the smaller, more intimate moments also capture the heart.
There’s never a sense of ‘dumbing down’ here, every member of the audience is treated as an equal and every member of the audience encouraged to take the journey into the woods. By its very nature (no pun intended) the staging of The Forest is small scale and designed with a specific target audience in mind, however, it remains accessible to all, regardless of background, and shows the real power of theatre to inspire, entertain and change mood.