delights – a Molotov cocktail of inspiration. The Barns inspire a sense of glee: a word which mixes delight and naughtiness.
This glee is the fuel of Kneehigh’s shows. They walk a tightrope between comedy and tragedy, and naughtiness is never far from the surface: the company is often described by the press as ‘irreverent’ or ‘maverick’, a claim they are quietly proud of Their recent version of Tristan & Yseult walks this line between comedy and tragedy perfectly, with a chorus of geeky ‘lovespotters’ providing both comic relief from the heart-breaking central story, and then themselves delivering a powerful punch as we realise we’re watching the story through the eyes of the ‘unloved’.
The original story of Tristan & Yseult, like many Cornish legends from hundreds of years ago, was spread far and wide by sailors and traders, as Cornwall was once the centre of shipping routes all over the globe. The story has been edited, re-told, changed and adapted to suit its audience, but its roots are in Cornish soil. As for the story, so for the story-tellers. Tristan & Yseult has been an international success story, playing in Australia, New Zealand, America and all over the UK, and in the last year alone Kneehigh have racked up 250 international performances.
But despite international success, like the men and women who spread the story of Tristan & Yseult throughout the trade routes of the world, Kneehigh return to their native soil, to recharge and regroup, and tell tales of their adventures overseas.
And triumphantly they return! In September Kneehigh take root at the magical Lost Gardens of Heligan, presenting their new show, which they’ve been cooking up in the Barns just a stone’s throw from the gardens.
Their new show is called Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs), and is a musical, radical, dark and hilarious retelling of John Gay’s classic Beggar’s Opera, complete with a gorgeous and powerful live score, exquisite puppetry, a cast of world-class actor-musicians, and yes, a dead dog in a suitcase!
They’ll be presenting the show in their Asylum tent – a beautiful, nomadic, welcoming structure: a shelter, sanctuary, madhouse and home. From 28th August for four weeks they invite you in to share their stories and to celebrate our delicious time on the planet with world-class theatre, fantastic music, food, drink and revelry.
All Images: Steve Tanner