A creative piece celebrating the ‘weird and wonderful things about being alive’, We Are All Just Little Creatures features a large cast and live music by composers David Paul Jones and Kevin Lennon. It promises to tell ‘little (but big) life stories’ of all kinds. While the performance does deliver on this promise, I felt a little lost through most of it, like there was a bigger picture or an intended meaning that I was completely missing.
From start to finish, the music sets the mood of each scene or skit. I was repeatedly impressed by how expressive this music was; Jones and Lennon really brought a lot of feelings across. It was easy to forget that they were the only two musicians, except for when a member of the cast would join them to sing. I can safely say that each individual song was very impressive.
Unfortunately, I was not equally impressed by what was happening on the stage. The cast members tell the audience near the beginning of the piece that they want, or have, to ‘do something’. This is exactly what then proceeded to happen. However, I often felt like ‘something’ was all they were doing. The scenes felt disconnected from each other, often transitioning from feeling calm and flowing to red and angry jarringly quickly. Many things are happening around the stage at the same time, which is both a strength and a weakness. Every actor and actress is doing ‘something’, creating visual intrigue; at the same time, I did not always know where to put my eyes. It was difficult to take in more than a small amount.
The cast itself featured people from various walks of life – young and old, disabled and able-bodied, male and female. However, I couldn’t help but feel that for a piece about the beauty of life, the cast did not feature enough actors of colour. Only a handful of children were non-white, and these made infrequent appearances. It certainly was refreshing to see not one, but two wheelchair-bound cast members, however. The inclusion of a BSL interpreter (Rachel Amey) was also a welcome sight.
While I appreciate that the piece does not follow a ‘typical’ structural model, I felt that it either spelled things out too little or not enough for the audience. First the cast is ‘doing something’, which felt too vague to really understand. Then, about halfway through, some children come and explain (in a very charming and funny way!) that they are collecting delight, because grown-ups don’t feel enough of it. From then on, the performance largely centered around producing and collecting this delight in the audience, which is a very literal take on their words. The sharp contrast between having nothing explained, and having everything explained, left me wishing the whole production had struck a more even balance between being totally vague and totally clear.
I know there were lots of people in the audience with whom this piece truly struck a chord. However, I was not one of them. I left the theatre feeling a little confused, wondering what the connection to ‘celebrating life’ was.
PHOTOS: Pete Dibdin