A DARK FABLE OF LOVE AND LOSS
Inspired by the myth of Melusine
From the playwright Hattie Naylor.
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
Shiver is one of the finest studio productions I have seen in years.
John Billington, Southern Daily Echo