by Gillian Tunley.

Gift (1)

Anything is possible and nothing is quite what it seems… a mysterious lady in black restlessly circles and scales a seemingly empty packing case. She searches and probes expressively – what could be inside the giant wooden case?

Intriguing sounds emanate from within… knocking, elephant trumpeting and traffic noises. She is troubled by the sight of a single black floating balloon; an omen perhaps? Her pose is balletic and reflective. Suddenly, her mood is lifted to the strains of upbeat and rhythmic music and she dances exuberantly. Slowly, the mood becomes lyrical as she discovers swathes of polythene; these are transformed magically into a seagull and clouds, drifting and swirling into the sky. From the side of the box an elephant’s head emerges briefly, trumpeting, then bright flowers and delicate butterflies.

Suddenly, the case opens to reveal a colourful interior and a whole world of imagination, and a single ominous black balloon. It closes just as abruptly as a kite whirls and twirls above. A trailing dragon emerges, the beast within, and a struggle ensues as the troubled lady in black confronts and conquers her demons.

The dark city skyline lights up like a firefly, dogs bark and a security robot with giant swivelling eyes surveys the scene. Huge nightmarish black spiders appear and there is banging and crashing from inside the case. A mischievous brown fairy appears, dancing jauntily on the top of the case to the strains of a melodium. She seems to be our heroine’s alter ego, taunting and teasing her, swathing her in polythene sheeting and imprisoning her inside the revolving box with black tape. She then clambers triumphantly on the top only to be secured inside the box herself. Freed from her troublesome alter ego, the lady in black is confronted by the benign doe-eyed monster, who magically emerges from within. He tentatively offers his huge hands to our bewildered heroine. An endearing balletic sequence follows and the two join in harmonious and touching friendship. She has truly tamed the beast within.

Gift (4)

The floating black balloon causes a moment’s consternation, but our heroine shrugs resignedly as the balloon is released joyously skywards. Suddenly, a troupe of brightly attired dancers burst out of the case. Their energetic dance is a joyful affirmation of life. Our lady in black is transformed into a shimmering flame coloured frock and she whirls joyfully atop the case, wielding a giant feather. The vibrant dance gains momentum with a street dance sequence and the mood is upbeat and optimistic as the audience clap to the feel good rhythm. The performance builds and builds, climaxing into a wonderful rainbow of coloured smoke, leaving the pavement fairy dusted.

This was a truly magical and stunningly visual show, celebrating the power of creativity. It lifted us out of our mundane everyday life and made our hearts soar. Thank you to the Beautiful Creatures Theatre and their consummately talented director, Danielle Corbishley.

Sitelines is a unique theatrical experience curated by South Street. It performs year round in unusual spaces around Reading, such as Jacksons Stores, Malmaison Hotel, backstage at the Hexagon, a pub and even a parked car! It has attracted some of the UK’s most imaginative companies, including the dazzling Beautiful Creatures Theatre, who enchanted us in Queens Walk last Sunday 3 July with their performance of Gift, a free outdoor family spectacle.

  1. Beautiful Creatures Theatre
  2. Sitelines
  3. Open for Art 2016
  4. Reading Year of Culture – Gift