Dotted Line Theatre is a very new company formed this year by Rachel Warr, a theatre director, dramaturg and puppeteer. Drawing from a variety of theatrical disciplines, the company aim to create new original work with a strong narrative, and a distinctive visual style laced with a playful quality. The story of The Lonely One, based on an excerpt from Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury and adapted for stage by Rachel Warr, uses acting, shadow play and light manipulation to draw us into the tale of a small, Southern American town, where a murderer is on the lurk.
So, entering into the Little Angel Theatre, we are greeted on stage by four still and silent performers, standing, suspended in the moment between us getting our coats off and settling down. There are miniature houses on stage, leading back into the distance, creating an image of a small town... a scattering of white houses with porches... and darkness, all around.
Using body, space, light and voice, this is excellent storytelling, simple and effective, lit amongst and by all four performers. There puppetry gives us occasional illustration through momentary shadow puppets: the silhouettes of neighbours in their houses, rocking chairs in silent windows; a man smoking, the shadow of his exhaled smoke wafting up and causing much delight in the audience. Through handheld torches and manipulation we have fireflies in the evening woodland, the flicker of a revolving fan, the gleam on faces from an evening out at the silver screen. With details such as the red neon light of the Hotel Elite and drinks in a soda bar, this is illustrated storytelling. Somehow, the clever thing is, you never really see anything sinister, yet you feel it, sense it... it's all implied. Like listening to a story, images in your own head glide up into the performance space as if an external projection of your own imagination. Captivating performances. You believe them.
A strong air of suspense is built up, especially during the main character Lavinia's solitary late night monologue as she crosses the ravine and descends the steps. The Lonely One is a dark and shadowy tale, brimming with a simple brilliance.