The secret life of verse

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The Independent Culture
Since his first collection was published in 1951, Charles Causley's poems have been distinguished by their clarity, simplicity and depth. "A poem has a secret life," he says, "the simpler it is the more is going on underneath, like an unturned stone." Causley has himself made a selection of his poems for children to be dramatically illuminated by Cornish compatriots, Kneehigh Theatre in their new production Figgie Hobbin. This is not the first time the two have collaborated and Causley particularly admires the Commedia dell'Arte skills of the Kneehigh performers. "They do something new with poetry," Causley says. "They give a force to poetry that may not exist flat on the page for children." For their part Kneehigh find in the images, magic and rhythms of Causley's poems a richness of material suited to their style. Theirs is a spectacular, visual and physical theatre. For 15 years Kneehigh have toured shows with shadow puppets, masks, live music, pyrotechnics and magic all over Cornwall, and sometimes beyond. They have great popular appeal - Ravenheart, their vision of Carmen, played outdoors to an audience of 800 in a Cornish village - yet they are not frequent visitors to London. But Figgie Hobbin, after starting in a pub in St Agnes, and playing Ruan Minor Village Hall, reaches the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon next Tuesday. And what is Figgie Hobbin? A delicious Cornish concoction with raisins, sugar and butter. Like Causley's poems and Kneehigh's theatre, it's a treat.

Polka Theatre, Wimbledon (0181-543 4888) 18-22 Apr

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