This Little World is a solo adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry II, adapted by Owen Corey and Matthew Windham. Performed by Corey and directed by Windham, the piece utilises original body puppetry under the direction of Essie Windham to tell this story of isolation, desperation and the absolute loss of everything someone holds dear, whether that’s friends and family or the throne of England itself.
Opening with Corey, playing Richard II, huddled up in his bare and dusty cell, wearing a torn tracksuit, we see him firstly engaging in desperate attempts to escape before scrawling desperately into a notebook. He pulls the camera towards him, a subtle push against the fourth wall, as he begins his first soliloquy.
Using Shakespeare’s original text, Corey essentially tells the story to the audience, giving the piece a strong sense of regret and making the drifts into past conversations he has had feel very real as he acts them out.
Other characters are drawn on various parts of Corey’s body with a marker pen, and there is something both disconcerting and joyfully childlike about his crude sketches. Corey has an excellent talent for vocal characterisation and is able to create different voices and personalities for everyone in the tale. He is also impressively flexible and the portrayal of his wife is a particular high point of the piece.
Some simple props are used for multiple purposes, including some as costumes for the “puppet” characters, which is very funny at times and keeps the piece from being overrun by excessive objects.
Corey’s portrayal of Richard II is particularly very strong with both his weaknesses as a ruler and desperation to maintain the status quo being palpable. As he is playing all of the characters, and the story has been adapted into a shorter piece, some knowledge of the plot would probably be useful as otherwise the complexities within the play could be quite confusing.
This is a timely piece, interestingly exploring isolation in a way which does not involve current events. Quite emotional throughout, it is easy to feel sympathy with Richard as he becomes increasingly miserable and desperate, as he waits, alone in his cell, for whatever is coming next.
This Little World is being streamed until 22nd February 2021. Tickets are available here https://live-stream.zarucchi.com/events/this-little-world/feed
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 6th February 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★