Review: Whistle Stop

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Whistle Stop We have all seen the story unfold countless times: Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, but can’t utter two coherent words. Girl also likes boy, but her independence prohibits her from acting on her feelings. Their hands touch. They fight. They break up.

Thousands of movies, books and theatre shows have followed this recipe, thus is it notably refreshing to see a new take and variation on this theme. Whistle Stop, currently showing at the Baxter Theatre, portrays the familiar story of two people meeting for the first time, but reinvigorates the age-old narrative with non-stop laughter.

The play was written by Ameera Patel who also plays one of the protagonists alongside Jacques de Silva. The characters do not have names and the stage is bare, a bench being the only prop. Even with this minimalistic approach Patel manages to create intimacy and immediate affection for the characters. Clichés are out of the door, new comparisons are tested and age-old ideologies are brushed aside. The play is rich and funny and very original.

The directing by Frances Slabolepszy sees the bare stage transformed into pure theatre. Patel and de Silva are gymnasts on stage. They pick each other up, throw the bench around and utilise every inch of the space with perfectly choreographed movement.

It’s also glorious to watch the acting talent of Patel and De Silva. In the absence of dialogue, their facial expressions and bodies create meaning. Extremely energetic, they can nonetheless make you laugh with the smallest raise of an eyebrow. In a sense the plays goes back to the basics: Less is more. It’s pure physical theatre and an absolute delight to watch.

Whistle Stop is a must-see over the festive season. You can’t help but walk out of the theatre feeling good about life and yourself. It makes you forget the frivolity of your own problems and focus on something completely pure and above all else, extremely funny.

Joshua Carstens

Whistle Stop runs at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio until 7 January 2017. 

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