Preview: ‘The City & Iris’

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There’s a show calling in at The Maltings next week which will prove that you don’t need an elaborate set or state of the art special effects to make an impact.

From its roots in the living room of artist director Cath Johnson’s living room to a lauded stint at the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘The City & Iris’ has grown from strength to strength and is now in the middle of a UK tour.

Cath and her Glasseye Theatre colleagues all met while studying at the London International School of Performing Arts for a degree in Actor Created Physical Theatre and it was in their second year that Cath had the idea for the show.

Drawing on Cath’s own experience of moving from rural Gloucestershire to the hustle and bustle of London ‘The City & Iris’, tells the tale of Iris who after a terrifying experience at the opticians as a child, is afraid to remove her glasses and take a good look at the world around her.

But instead of theatrical backdrops or carefully constructed sets, Iris’ surroundings are created by cast members, who contort themselves into trees in a park, books on a shelf or a wardrobe.

And Cath said if anything the unconventional approach to staging helps the show to be even more engaging than if it had expensive scenery.

“We crate images that the audiences have to colour in themselves.

“Their imagination has to be engaged throughout.

“Rehearsing the show in the early days was an interesting experience.

“We’d either be in my living room or the local park where we’d attract a bit of attention, particularly when we were pretending to be ducks!

“As well as people being surprised how we stage the show a number of people have come up to me and said that they have been Iris at some point in their life.

“The show is meant to encourage people to see the extraordinary rather than the ordinary.”

*The City & Iris’ is on in the Henry Travers Studio on Friday, April 11 at 7.30pm.