Shifting Sands, The Donkey and his Masters

Review in Issue 10-4 | Winter 1998

The Donkey and his Masters is the result of four weeks of workshops with Gerry Flanagan, formerly of Commotion. Six performers work around Aesop’s fable of The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. How might a clown re-tell the tale? As an anarchic deconstruction of a universal truth perhaps? The possibilities could be exciting.

Unfortunately, however, the performance suffers as a result of its own methods and the style ends up suffocating the substance. Clowning techniques are put to good use, with small moments given time and focus. There is even some object animation too, but nothing new – umbrellas and scissors masquerade as sheep and wolves and their animators put on silly voices. There are also some excellent surreal moments, especially the beginning when heads bob up and down anonymously above the backdrop to a chorus of ‘baa-ing’.

But overall, any attempt to break new ground with Aesop’s fable is stayed by the performance’s failure to move beyond what appears to be a collection of clown workshop exercises strung together. Additionally, the fact that each performer has their own ‘star-turn’ does nothing to further the production’s purpose but rather makes it longer than necessary. The Donkey and his Masters is still in its early stages of development. With further work, and perhaps some simplification, Shifting Sands could find its way to breathing new life into a familiar tale and even claiming it as its own.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-4
p. 21