W-hat About? @ Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Fuora Dance Project's new show for kids appeals to people of all ages and languages, too.

Review by Roisin O'Brien | 08 Nov 2018

W-hat About? from Fuora Dance Project is an endearing visual tale for children and their adults, choreographed and directed by Giulia Montalbano. It’s an encounter across ages and languages and, while it has little tricks up its sleeve to entrance young audiences, there is a sadness in its story too.

The show is set in Scottish hat-maker Robert’s house. He awaits the arrival of his two teenage granddaughters from Italy. Robert, played by Scott Noble, is gruff but gentle, and prone to reminiscing. This is particularly apparent when he speaks about the girls’ mother, his daughter, who has passed away.

The arrival of Alessandra (Selene Travaglia) and Azzurra (Montalbano) is a warble of sounds, as they career onstage speaking Italian faster than Robert or the audience can apprehend. It’s both a brave and uncomplicated decision for a children’s show, for the audience instead rely on the performers’ physicality. Interspersed with some intricate choreography of flexed feet and spiralling arms, Travaglia and Montalbano exaggerate the movements of highly excitable yet easily bored teenagers. There’s an exaggerated backward lean to check Robert is out of the room, and a flamboyant dive from Alessandra as she crashes to the floor when she finds out there is no Wi-Fi.

The hats that are Robert’s livelihood soon bubble into life as they pop out and shrink back into the pastel screen that frames the back of the stage, earning giggles from the children seated on cushions at the front. Some of the older references from the teenagers (Justin Bieber, Facebook) don’t pick up a laugh but allow the possibility for older siblings to get something from the piece.

W-hat About? ends in a surprisingly touching place, as Robert goes to comfort Azzurra behind the screen. Their silhouettes shine through as they agree to make a new hat for Azzurra’s mother, and they find a new purpose together out of their shared loss.

W-hat About?, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, run ended