Something Else review at Wyndham’s Theatre, London – ‘sweet and engaging’
Based on the children’s book by Kathryn Cave, Something Else tells the story of an unusual creature who lives alone in a world of more zoologically classifiable critters. While he struggles to find friends, he learns about hypocrisy when he himself turns away another unidentifiable outsider, named Something.
The simple fable translates well into this highly visual performance from Deafinitely theatre, who specialise in creating work that is equally accessible for both deaf and hearing audiences. While director Paula Garfield sets too slow a pace, there is a well-intentioned gentleness suffusing the production.
Deaf actor Nadeem Islam is endearingly droll as the titular protagonist, fluidly mixing crystal clear mime work into his signing. His character bounces between bashful and overenthusiastic as he attempts to fit in. Ian Street generates an opposite energy, twitchy and hyperactive, with a shrill giggle straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon.
As Something, he plays the sort of surreal, clownish character kids will either find hilarious or nightmarish. Skilled physical performer Clare-Louise English – somewhat underused here – provides a centre of relative calm between the two.
Paul Burgess’ set draws inspiration from the book’s original illustrations by Chris Riddell, resulting in a colourful, crosshatched backdrop. A canary yellow armchair stands centre stage, stuffed with hidden pockets from which the performers produce unexpected props – from chocolate spread to badminton rackets.
Aimed squarely at young children, the show lacks nuance but it does provide an engaging environment and a positive message for its intended audience.