Snakes and Giants by The Flanagan Collective explores the fears and confusion we all feel at some point in our lives, whether it’s when we’re young and in love staring towards the uncertainty and excitement of our future, or older and wiser looking back on what was and considering why things turned out the way they did. Through soulful music, powerful monologues and energetic, while at times moving, physical theatre, Snakes and Giants tells the story of two women connected by a crumbling cliff side during the calm before a storm.
Ali is 28 years old, moving into a new flat after the end of a seven-year relationship. Mr Shana is the last customer to leave a soon to be abandoned dance hall on the edge of a cliff. Both stand together looking out to sea, brought together by turbulences and confusion within their different lives. I felt like the characters represented the trap we often fall in to; those who are young wishing to be older, always wanting something different and more than what they are, standing in line next to some older looking at their life, feeling aggravated and missing their significant other, wishing they never built the foundations of their life because this only means that they have foundations that will gave to come down – foundations to be lost.
The script for this piece, written by company founder Alexander Wright, was incredibly captivating. I found myself hanging on to every word as the writing was so lyrical and emotive, you wanted to hear every single word and felt yourself feeling for the characters as they so beautifully expressed their fears and regrets. If a copy of the play was available I would definitely buy it, as I feel there was so much to take in and examine, that you need the time to really appreciate what was being said.
Ali’s story was particularly interesting, and I was left wanting to know more about her ex-girlfriend, her possible new love interest, and her life in her new flat with her impressive TV. Holly Beasley-Garrigan was stunning and took the audience through every emotion; you felt welcomed into her life and not uncomfortable in the intimacy developed as you learn more about her childhood and relationships. A physical theatre sequence when Ali is on a night out was a great way of portraying the mood and producing the vibe of the busy nightlife to an audience in such an intimate venue; it was simple and effective.
Mrs Shana story was charming, and the imagery of the brooding landscape surrounding her was compelling. However, I struggled to understand how her story fit in to the overall narrative of the piece. She provided a personification for the feelings of regret, and of a turbulent yet happy life, but there was something missing.
Despite some lack of clarity in the overall narrative, The Flanagan Collective have produced a moving and beautiful piece of theatre with strong performances from both Veronica Hare and Holly Beasley-Garrigan. If you have the chance to catch it, it will be worth your time. I’m excited to see what this company produces next.
(I do not own the photograph used in this piece)