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Shiver

A DARK FABLE OF LOVE AND LOSS
Inspired by the myth of Melusine
From the playwright Hattie Naylor.

Matthew is dead. The last guest has left the wake, leaving his parents and young fiancée, Gwendolyn in the family home. No-one is sleeping; left in an uneasy limbo they try to make sense of what has happened. Will the truth come out? Has Matthew disappeared completely and why is Gwen spending so much time in the bath? A stylish, beautiful piece of theatre that shows how grief can make monsters of us all....

(Shivering is the body’s response to lower body temperature and one of the beginning symptoms of hypothermia; you should end your dive if you begin to shiver).

REVIEWS
BEST PERFORMANCE

“ Matthew is dead and his parents are heartbroken. When his Fiancée, Gwendolyn, a mysterious young woman, comes to live with them their grief becomes toxic as they seek reasons for his untimely death. Matthew was such a nice boy; he joined the army from school and lived up to his parent’s hopes and dreams. Somebody must have exerted an unsavoury influence upon him – why else would he run away from all they wanted for him?
Matthew’s parents blame Gwendolyn for his death and she not spoken a word since the accident, instead she spends long hours locked in the bathroom – another cause of their resentment. So wrapped up are they in the desolation of their individual grief that they forget that she is mourning for him too.
Based on the myth of Melusine the mermaid, Shiver is a magnificent piece of magic realism with chic styling from Platform 4. A channel of water flows through the set, representing the flood of their grief. The gentle sound of water murmurs with memories of Matthew.”

The Big Issue Feb27-March 5



Shiver

Grief takes people in many different, often unpredictable, ways - disbelief, heartbreak, depression, anger, hysteria, guilt and always the questioning unanswerable why. These conflicting emotions are well caught in Hattie Naylor’s haunting new play, directed with a finely judged sense of poetic rhythm and lyrical contrast of mood swings by Catherine Church.
Matthew, a much loved only son, has died in a mysterious sea-diving accent. His young wife Gwendolyn is staying with his distraught parents. They cannot come to terms with such an unexpected death, nor offer the slightest comfort to each other. Indeed they seem to make the situation worse. Could it be that the mute Gwen is no ordinary woman? As the play is inspired by the myth of the water fairy Melusine, a serpent from the waist down, is this why she spends so much time splashing around in the bath?
David Matthews gives a powerful portrayal of the deep-in-shock father, counterbalanced by Lisa Tramontin as the mother, an excellent study of barely surpressed emotion, quite moving in intensity. Verity Hewlett is most touching as the mermaid-like wife, fey and whimsical, while the presence of Matthew (Ben Crowe) is all-pervading, half-heard but never glimpsed.
The inventive setting designed and made by Simon Plumridge and the atmospheric soundtrack of sea and bathwater by Jules Bushell contribute enormously to this well-integrated production. The visual effects are intriguing, while the final tableau of swimming free underwater is sure to linger tantalisingly in the memory long after the final bows are taken.
Jon Holliday, The Stage Monday 10 April 2006 04:00 PM

Haunting and strange

SHIVER is haunting and mysterious. It mixes fantasy with the very human; and human beings imbue playthings with humanity to make the inexplicable explicable.

A couple – Sugar and Sweetmeat are in the throes of grief – their son has drowned in an accident at sea. But his wife, whom they hardly know, has survived the accident and is living with them. Sugar and Sweetmeat must work through their grief and their mistrust of the daughter-in-law, only then can they find their own freedom.

This would be a moving exploration, but Platform 4 add another dimension. Gwendolyn takes to the water (in a bath); we come to believe she’s a mermaid. Her existence in the ‘real’ world is never explained, her disappearance, beautifully staged, we feel as a loss.

Platform 4 move through their play very slowly. This, with the sparse, frequently absent, dialogue gives the whole performance a dreamlike distance. The fantasy element enhances this. Sometimes I felt that Hattie Naylor’s language for the piece needed to achieve a different register, to become unified with the poetic feel of the piece.

The acting team is strong and their grief seems real because of their lack of control of it. Their sombre games to deal with it – touching. Verity Hewlett (Gwendolyn) has some lovely movement too.

I found the lightings sometimes too dark, though; this made concentration difficult and my attention faltered at times when I couldn’t see. Shame – I felt every element mattered.
Rod Dungate, Reviewsgate Mar 10, 2006




POWER OF SILENCE

Chesil Theatre, Winchester


Audiences at Winchester’s Chesil Theatre were treated to a dark, brooding display of visual theatre with Hattie Naylor’s startling Shiver, a three-hander from Winchester-based Platform 4, which had a three-day run last week.
Powerful sound effects, strong acting and simple design combined to give this play a real bite, which left the spectator thinking long after the curtain call.
The play drenched in a watery feel, tells the tale of Gwendolyn, a mysterious, alluring mermaid-like creature, whose husband, Matthew, died while on a diving expedition with her. His parents, who she is staying with, are struggling to understand their son’s death and the bizarre bathtime habits of their daughter-in-law.
But, despite angst, emotion and tears, she never reveals the truth behind his fate, making the loss all the more stark. Verity Hewlett, as the mysterious mute, Gwendolyn, is fantastic. Thought never speaking, she conjures up a powerful presence through movement and acrobatics.
Her antics in the bath, where she spends most of her time, were particularly well choreographed.
David Matthews and Lisa Tramontin, as Matthew’s parents, give a powerful vision of what it is to lose a son, and gradually reveal the truth about their “golden boy”.

Although the dialogue is scant, the most powerful scenes were where no-one talked at all, their bereavement and confusion painted through dance and stark, stretching movements.
An innovative and important piece of theatre, it was a piece of art, which left the actors physically tired and the audience emotionally drained.
Giles Gwinnett, Hampshire Chronicle February 23 - 01 March 2006

SHIVER - in Studio at LIGHTOUSE, POOLE'S CENTRE FOR THE ARTS

Matthew is dead. Of that there is no doubt, for the play starts with his mother, father and mysteriously silent wife forlornly facing the fact immediately after a typically English wake. We know he drowned due to the effects of nitrogen narcosis while deep sea diving, for Matthew's ethereal voice tells us as it echoes around the set.
Such are the simple and melancholy circumstances of Winchester-based Platform 4's latest production. What follows is a masterly exploration of the distressing reality of grief. Matthew's parents are drawn deeper and deeper into the depths of grief, through all its predictable stages, just as Matthew himself passed through compression levels on his way to the ocean bed.
His 'wife' is a figment of his parent's distress, a symbol of the sea and Matthew's adult life beyond them. The madness of grief, of the denial, anger, guilt and despair is subtly presented through observational touches with which we can all empathise. We see the achingly poignant power of smell taking the characters on voyages of heart-rending reminiscence, little artifacts creating huge waves of memory and visit those long, lonely sleepless nights when the mind ceaselessly searches for answers.
Superb performances, direction, set, sound and lighting combine wonderfully to chart us through to the final stage of all, an acceptance of loss.
Shiver is one of the finest studio productions I have seen in years.
John Billington, Southern Daily Echo