FRINGE REVIEW: Gone, The Warren, 5-6 May

Music Action International and Box Tale Soup present, ‘Gone’
Review by Laura Darrall

★★★★★

Gone, a collaboration between award winning theatre company Box Tale Soup and Guardian Charity of the Year, Music Action International, is undoubtedly the most important piece of theatre you will see at this year’s Brighton Fringe.

We open on a stark stage, carefully and deliberately strewn with beautiful home-made props, puppets and trunks, while two alert and engaging performers sit exuding warmth and intrigue, and a television flickers on.

We are welcomed, on screen, by the members of Stone Flowers, a choir of refugee and asylum seeking torture survivors. They say thank you for being there, for witnessing their story, but as the final clap of applause reluctantly draws to a close an hour later, it is we who are thanking them.

Box Tale Soup, have delicately woven the true stories of those members affected by war and torture, into a universal tale of resilience and hope, that makes the audience question what it truly means to be human, to look beyond the term refugee and to see us all as a people searching for ‘Home’.

Antonia Christophers and Noel Byrne masterfully steer us through the story, as we follow a family, who lose all they hold dear and are forced to begin a journey across many lands, risking their lives in search of safety. There is a fluidity and a deftness to Christophers’ and Byrne’s performances, a delicacy in the puppetry that betrays hours of care and cherishing for the work they have created, and leaves us, as an audience, feeling safe in their expert hands.

Vignettes of the story are framed by an incredibly moving and honest score of many languages, written and performed by Stone Flowers. Though narrated in English, this is a story that could be watched and understood no matter what your native tongue. Their music gathers the audience in joy, holds us in silence and journeys us through their pain. Stone Flowers hold out their suffering to us as a precious gift, that we may listen, learn and reflect, but above all else, that we may admire the resilience, strength and warmth etched upon each and every single face.

Box Tale Soup have created a powerful and vital piece of theatre, that never preaches, but gently holds up a mirror to our world, allowing us to see into the heart of humanity and the hope that is to be found therein. The current Refugee Crisis means instability, chaos and violence for around 22.5 million people worldwide, 51% of which are children under 18, so that now, more than ever, this is a story that needs to be told.

Box Tale Soup return to the Brighton Fringe with their version of The Wind in the Willows at the end of May, and if Gone is anything to go by, it promises to be simply magical.

To purchase tickets for Box Tale Soup’s The Wind in the Willows, visit here.

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