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Sirenia at C Nova Sirenia at C Nova

The room is not lacking in atmosphere. A winding wooden staircase leads the audience into a disused attic space in the C Nova building. It’s an intimate venue, a room that speaks of history, with a fireplace on one wall, slatted shutters striping the walls with light.

Jethro Compton and his company know how to dress a space; they do it extraordinarily well, with a keen eye for detail, and the room exerts a hold on the audience from the minute they sit down on the rickety wooden benches. You can almost smell the saline tang of the sea. It’s the storytelling that so often lets them down and it remains the case here.

Although drawn from Celtic folklore, this is slim tale about a lighthouse keeper who rescues a mysterious woman from drowning while a storm rages outside. It’s formulaic and predictable in structure, and for a short piece, it also does a lot of over-explaining, undermining any initial sense of foreboding and ambiguity. It holds very little in the way of surprise, you can see where things are going from pretty early on.

Despite that, Rob Pomfret does a fine job as the lighthouse keeper and the space is undeniably evocative. Compton and co really are skilled designers, they have a real feel for space and how to fill it, but in this as with so many of their productions, it’s the writing that lets the side down.

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An evocatively designed, if fairly formulaic, piece drawn from Celtic myth