01 Extra! Extra! - 27Feb11

Extra! Extra!
The Storeroom written and directed by Michael Merwitzer & Siân Williams
The Drill Hall 26 & 27 February 2011
By Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!


The Storeroom is a one woman show that depends entirely on Siân Williams' considerable talent, chiefly as an accomplished and athletic dancer, but also as choreographer, actress, storyteller, singer, puppeteer, ventriloquist, animator and quick change artist. The film noir style tale is of femme fatale Zoe's growth from rebellious child to sexy showgirl and the revenge she eventually wreaks on the playboy, Artie who set her up for the murder of his wife, the heiress Julie. All parts are played by Ms Williams, including the part of Tiger the sailor, a ventriloquist's dummy that she brings to life with great skill. In a powerful seduction scene which has to be seen to be believed, she plays both Artie and Zoe at once in a double sided costume. The most entrancing scene shows her blossoming as an artist, whose body can express every emotion, suspended at times from a ladder placed over the various packing cases containing memories of her life, moving with the sinewy strength of a panther and the grace and poise of a ballet dancer, accompanied by Alastair Gavin's beautiful piano arrangement. It is no surprise that The Kosh has won awards internationally with physical theatre as imaginative and compelling as this.

Playing the roles of both Zoe and Artie alternately allows Ms Williams to enact gender difference through dance. Artie tap dances, swaggers and juts his limbs at the audience while Zoe's movements are more fluid and sensuous. Sexuality is a powerful force moving through the performance, right from the opening scene where Zoe appears swathed in a red PVC coat, bound with chains which are dropped to the floor with the deliberation of a striptease. The Storeroom is a tale of lust and the high cost of surrendering to the lure of a cad, at least for an ingénue like Zoe.

The clever set, designed by Jenny Carey uses a series of boxes which transform from doll's house to prison cell, aided by the mesmerising agility of Ms Williams, lit throughout like a trapeze artist or a high wire act by Neill Brinkworth.  Her performance of life's often tawdry trajectory was given with inspirational courage and more than a dash of circus magic, deserving of the gasps of appreciation and bursts of applause from the audience throughout the hour long performance, with many novel tricks to keep them entertained such as a dramatic scene played entirely from the knee down. The three curtain calls were richly deserved.