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TaniwhaThames

A story for anyone who calls London home. Sometimes.
October 2011 - Oval House Theatre, 52-54 Kennington Oval, SE11 5SW

Directed by Stella Duffy

Written and devised by the Company

TaniwhaThames image
"There's something in the water...

...Watching you it always does...

...Creeps around deep in your heart...

...Here comes the Taniwha"

There is a Taniwha in the Thames. It swims the Effra, the Fleet, the Peck, the rivers of London hidden and exposed. The Taniwha knows the mysteries of London. It knows your secrets and your darkest fears. It is the pull of this dirty and excessive city when you yearn for another home. It is that feeling in the dark places, quiet corridors and long alleyways, of knowing that someone – something – is just ... over ... there.

Drawing on folklore from across London and the over the seas, Shaky Isles weave a visceral tale that stretches across time and space to ask what it means to belong, wherever you make your home.
 


From the Reviews

"TaniwhaThames... has a stark simplicity as voices rise and fall together. It isn't hurried, and is all the better for it, as it offers snippets of personal and city history that rise to the surface like flotsam and jetsam... Next time I walk across Waterloo bridge, I will look down a little fearfully."

Lyn Gardiner, The Guardian, 3/5 stars [Full review]


"This is devised theatre, created collaboratively, that uses inventive movement, sound and song and makes the most of a sparse set. The Taniwha takes various shapes, invoked by an indistinct subaqueous clicking and suggested by boned garments that transform into a fin or articulated tail. She is first spotted by little Jimmy Frigate, lookout on Captain Cook’s Endeavour, but lurks behind all stories. Readers will recognise splashes of London folklore amidst an examination of the love-hate relationship many have with the city, tales of migration, homecoming, coupling and parting.

There’s magic and mystery in the telling."

Londonist [Full review]


'A rich metaphor for the blend of fear and temptation lurking in the background of any journey into unfamiliar territory... The performers imbue the show with a lot of soul, particularly in its final song, and a cherished New Zealand perspective. What's lacking in narrative is made up for in the allegorical blend of theatrical ideas: like fragments of urban myth found in the river-bed of London-based Kiwis' collective unconscious when the Thames is at low tide. 

Theatreview.org.nz [Full review]


An engaging piece of devised theatre with a strong element of the physical. A couple of sail-like white triangles, two barrels and two step ladders are all Shaky Isles need to move through time and space: from the 18th century ship ‘The Endeavour’ to the here and now of Electric Avenue. For 90 minutes, the performers seem to seep into one another. They weave in and out of time and use dance, song and stories to ask questions about whether longing necessarily leads to belonging. People and relationships change; they become rooted or uprooted. Always the question remains, what’s beneath it all?

Exeunt Magazine [Full review]


From onboard the HMS Endeavour to a tai chi-styled airline safety announcement that morphs into the Haka, director Stella Duffy and her cast collapse pages of history into imaginative and often strikingly beautiful scenes.

TimeOut [Full review]