Following its lively BSL production of Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Globe to Globe festival earlier this year, Deafinitely Theatre’s new work tells the story of a young Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka. As she flees through a freezing forest, the production takes on the air of a fairytale - a young girl lost in the woods, menaced by shadows, real and imagined.
Mixing sign and speech, Paula Garfield’s production is designed for both deaf and hearing audiences. Much of the storytelling is done visually and there are some strong movement sequences. Though inspired by a true story, there are times when the production feels light on narrative, more dream-like in mood, full of sun-toned flashbacks to happier times, a world full of fearsome things creeping through the trees.
Nadia Nadarajah’s Tanika is expressive and effervescent, a strong central presence. There’s some engaging interplay between her and Matthew Gurney’s teacher figure, and what the production lacks in dramatic heft, it more than makes up for in terms of atmosphere. Designer Simon Daw has transformed the Playhouse’s Vault space into a shimmering winter forest complete with skeletal trees and soft snow underfoot. The effect is magical - a subterranean Narnia sheltering under a corrugated sky.