Thursday 7th June 2012
Nunah Theatre Company’s production of The Arrival
Norwich Arts Centre
Review by Marion de Mello Catlin
Loosely based on a picture story by Shaun Tan, Nunah Theatre’s interpretation of The
Arrival describes the journey of a man who leaves his family behind to migrate to a new
land. Isolated and alone, he tries to communicate, to understand his new surroundings
and to make some sense of it all with only the merest basics. He hopes for betterment,
but in spite of help along the way, he realises he needs to return home to familiarity and
warmth. Throughout the scenes are woven emotional moments of tenderness, humour,
pathos and aggression.
The story is told through physical theatre, a carefully choreographed sequence of strong
visual images made by movement, synchronised repetition and rhythm. The cast of four
are carefully matched, their bold and interpretive actions creating an original and catchy
style which is somewhere between dance, movement, mime and drama. In the same
way that Tan’s picture story is told without words, so the Nunah version also dismisses
dialogue as unnecessary clutter in a visual world.
Performing to a full house at Norwich Arts Centre, the decision to address the audience
in the round was a courageous move by artistic director Vicky Heath as it is notoriously
difficult to manage this style of production. But expert choreography, carefully chosen
music and a strong visual language meant that the whole audience was successfully
drawn in and held.
Audience member Nick Snell said ‘The power of highly synchronised repetitive movement was
so compelling that I wanted to get out of my seat and join in. I wanted to be part of the
performance, not just watching. I want to see it again’.
The Arrival is the third production by this young, creative physical theatre company now
based in Norwich. Look out for further performances later in the year.
Artistic director Vicky Heath
Cast Vicky Heath, Peter Beck, Sophie Utting, Bijan Arasteh