Theatre On the Fringe: The Lost Child On tour n Fourplay Lyric Studio

JUDGED BY its intentions alone, The Lost Child would be declared a must-see. The second in a trilogy of the same name by the David Glass Ensemble, it has grown out of the company's work with street children around the world.

Thousands were shown The Hansel Gretel Machine, which explored instances of abandonment through a mime version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, and their own answering experiences have contributed to the textless sequel.

Glass and his team - four actors, two designers and composer Jonathan Cooper - have fashioned a black-and-white "series of dream pictures" which are as redolent of Luis Bunuel as the acknowledged inspiration, Lewis Carroll. They are accompanied by a sound-track that bombards the car with drum-rolled gunfire, sampled gurgles, mournful loops of piano and a legion of occidental-oriental effects. But the non-specificity of The Lost Child gives rise to unease and confusion: images of brutalised or vulnerable youngsters are put to a metaphorical use which, while never entirely clear, seems to put the loss of innocence that comes with adulthood on a par with the traumas children can suffer at the hands of adults.

The piece takes the form of a quest conducted in and around a small proscenium theatre. A pregnant woman (Gretel) goes through a looking-glass in search of both her mirror-self and a man who beckoned her (Hansel). Her unborn baby is removed by a white-faced baldie with rabbit ears and a bandage- masked sidekick in a trench-coat and bowler hat. As creepy as the kiddycatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, this sinister duo tyrannise the children who live beneath the stage where they spend much time committing solvent abuse or blowing up polythene dolls, depending on how you look at it. You can't fault Glass's inventiveness - there are some striking coups de theatre with masks and fairy-lights - but, repeated in combinations that defy decoding, they leave the audience stranded. So much emphasis is placed on structure that it ends up looking hollow.

In Sergi Belbel's interestingly flawed anti-farce Fourplay, directed by Hans-Peter Kellner, an elaborate formalism is deployed to point up an inner emptiness.

In 38 brief, cut-up scenes, punctuated by cheesy incidental music, we are teased about what goes on when a sexless married couple bring two friends (male and female) together, with the bizarre motive of inaugurating their new bed. How much "action" takes place is thrown into question when suggestive scenes are repeated with more context: what might have been a lesbian embrace proves to be a slip-up on a pool of vomit; the smell of sex becomes the odour of tobacco puffed by Belbel's miserable quartet. The Catalan playwright has been compared with Pedro Almodovar, but the neurosis on display here is skin-deep, used to make points about consumerism and entertainment that would have been better served with less contrivance.

`The Lost Child', Birmingham Mac, Fri/Sat, (0121-440-3838) then tours; `Fourplay', Lyric Hammersmith (0181-741 8701) to 20 Feb

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before