Review - Cartoon, Doncaster Little Theatre (Until Sunday)


There were a few scratched heads at the interval – the most common comment being ‘I’ve no idea what’s going on, but I’m enjoying it anyway’ about hit the mark as this initially disorienting piece of physical theatre puzzled and perplexed.

Luckily the second half made all (a bit) clearer - the play by Steve Yockey and directed by Paul Kelly and Victoria Porter is like a psych Dario Fo, it has an anarchic heart, though it should be acknowledged that structurally it’s pretty anarchic too.

Not that it mattered to the (very young) performers, who – after some initially shakiness – threw themselves into intensely physical and demanding roles with elan and gusto.

The plot, such as it is, is the tale of a commedia dell’Arte coup d’etat as Trouble nicks an iconic hammer from dictator Esther and all matter of madness ensues.

But its the performances that carry the night, meaning the vagueness of the action matters little in the face of the mime, tumbling and mimicry that cannot fail to impress .

Megan Holt and Alexander Clark are a delight as Damsel and Suitor, a pair of star-crossed (and Damsel’s case homicidal) lovers tossed about by the vagaries of love and life, Jade Hamilton as Esther makes a convincing, and often perky dictator, and Jamie Eidskrem-Hughes makes the most of the role of the Wolverine-esque Rockstar, which at first seems like a one-note, thankless role but develops towards the play’s end.

But it’s very much a play of two halves – the first is pretty, but seemingly inconsequential as it sets up a scene that will be trashed in part two where darkness, paranoia and violence take hold. The initial lively, bold primary colours of the set by the end are more of a bloodstained battleground, as if they’d invited Tarantino to a kids tea party and he decided to make his own entertainment.

Cartoon’s a very difficult play for anyone to take on - that such a young group manage to pull it off with some style is very impressive indeed.