Reviews LeicesterNational Published 16 February 2020

Review: It’s Hot, It’s Not at Curve, Leicester

12 February, then touring

Splash splosh: Naomi Obeng reviews Reckless Sleepers’ inviting, restless, weather-themed children’s show.

Naomi Obeng

It’s Hot, It’s Not at Curve, Leicester. Design, Reckless Sleepers. Photo: Camilla Greenwell.

Birdsong. Drip Drip. Splash. Splosh. Splash. The sound of green apples falling to the ground.

There’s something about games and transitions in this show. The way that a movement or an impulse spreads, amplifies and evolves into something else.

The sound of a buzzing fly becomes an imitation of buzzing and then a different sound entirely. In small and big ways these shifts and evolutions are everywhere.

It’s Hot, It’s Not, a creation of European theatre collective Reckless Sleepers, consists of three performers, their bodies, objects and sound. That’s something I know for sure.

The set is bright. A light wooden board with rows of small square doors faces us. The doors open to darkness. The performers climb onto and through them for reasons unknown. That’s another thing I know for sure.

Leen seems permanently discovering the world for the first time. Mole is playful. Their costumes in earthy tones. They do whatever it is that they’re doing with inviting conviction.

When we take our seats they’re already moving, turning. Going through motions of eager waiting. Waving at us. Copying the nervous shuffle of a toddler walking to their seat. Later when I think they’re mimicking each other, a child behind me says it’s a dance. This isn’t about being right. That’s reassuring. Movement is up for interpretation.  

Drip Drip. Splash. Splosh. Splash. “H-h-h-hot”.

Energy isn’t expended by projecting out towards the audience. This is more like someone saying ‘I’m going to go and do this now, join me if you like’ and then going off to perform a magic trick. (Self-possessed, that’s the word. Though this show isn’t about words.) 

Wordlessly and gently this show says, ‘stay and watch, if you want’. Of course you’re going to stay and watch.

For a while I don’t get it. But I think I’m trying too hard to find patterns that aren’t there. How very human. Children are excellent pattern finders. But they, unlike me, haven’t already been clogged up with data that leads to top-down impositions of meaning. That’s also reassuring. 

Transitions continue. Rules of movement emerge out of nothing but sounds, bodies and time, and then they morph into something else entirely. Physicality I can only describe as ‘just off-centre’.

Squeak.       Squeak.       Squeak.     Squeak.     Squeak.   Squeak.  Squeak.  Squeak. Squeak. Squeak squeak squeaksqueaksqueasqueasqueasquea –

Small versions and big versions of the same objects recur throughout this lean 45 minutes. Big beach ball, little beach ball. Little umbrella (cocktail) and big umbrella. Is the small one a small version of the big one, or the big one a big version of the small? Everything depends on perspective.

The weather content is subtle. Gradual in the same way that the performers pick up each other’s movements and sounds, establish, transmit and alter them. It’s a while before I notice that we’re moving into winter.

 The splash of Wellington boots makes me feel like Wednesday afternoons, when the total wipe-out rain would cover outdoor tiles in great blobs and I’d open the windows to let the smell of ozone in. 

It’s all quite evocative. Turning one thing into another.

The winter is the most lovely. Trees are erected. The light dims. Chilling and soft-quiet as night falls.

Like looking up at a full moon in the middle of winter and trying to remember what the sun feels like on your skin.

A final splosh into the waves (aka, off the raised stage) and they’re gone.
“No more little umbrellas mummy”. No more little umbrellas.

But sunshine will come again.

It’s Hot, It’s Not was at the Curve, Leicester on 12th February. It tours until 15 May. More info here.

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Naomi Obeng

Naomi Obeng is an East Midlands based writer and arts journalist.

Review: It’s Hot, It’s Not at Curve, Leicester Show Info


Directed by Mole Wetherell

Cast includes Leen Dewilde, Kevin Egan, Alex Covell, Mole Wetherell, Rachel Piekarczyk

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