Dot, the Faun and the Elfin Child, Dot Dot Dot Theatre Co, Bath Rondo and touring

WHEN a frisky faun with a dirty mind and a way with words travels from his usual stone plinth in the Tuileries gardens in Paris and settles in Dorothy’s garden, the scene is set for the kind of mayhem you don’t often encounter, as ancient Greek gods meet a 21st century mother and daughter, with all the traumas and stresses of Covid, home schooling, teenage angst and a widow’s isolation.

Sounds strange? Well, yes, Sally Whyte’s Dot, the Faun and the Elfin Child is strange, but it is also charming, thought-provoking, intelligent and very interesting in a magic realist way.

Dorothy (Dot), played by Stephanie Weston, still mourning her husband, conjures Dorothys through history, from the little girl who goes over the rainbow into the Land of Oz to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dorothy Hodgkins, from a rose called Dorothy Perkins to the First World War lingerie company that became a popular women’s clothes shop, from glamorous film star Dorothy Lamour to the sharp-witted Dorothy Parker.

Elfina, the elfin child, played by Ellen Schofield, misses her adored father and blames her mother – she’s a teenager, so of course she blames the surviving parent. She is intelligent and working hard at her studies, which include French, human anatomy and the Greek myths. She is very, very angry with the world, and the Faun provides a willing ear and makes a mischievous companion for her rebellious spirit.

Dorothy wants someone to listen to her, to join her in her memories of her youth and remind her that she was once attractive and she wants her daughter to stop hating and blaming her.

But what does the Faun want? That’s a more enigmatic question, and in Ellis J Wells’ wickedly seductive performance, you are never quite sure. Half-man, half-goat, he is the epitome of the mercurial woodland spirits who cause such a whirlwind of mischief. He also has great fun punning on his name – pan, pandemic (Covid is just the latest), panic, pantomime, pantaloons, panorama, Pandora (she of the box), Peter Pan … and pandemonium.

This is a very clever play because you never know which way it is going – it tiptoes and dances between anger and laughter, tragedy and love, history (a parade of Dorothys, plus an Agatha, played by Georgie Dixon) and contemporary reality. And all in just over an hour of genuine entertainment.

Catch Dot, the Faun and the Elfin Child, directed by June Trask, at Bath’s Rondo Theatre on Wednesday 5th June, Wells Theatre Festival at the Bishop’s Barn on 20th and 22nd June, Barnstaple Theatrefest Fringe from 28th to 30th June, and at Ringwood, Bristol’s Alma Tavern and more venues to be announced; www.dotdotdot-theatre.co.uk

FC

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