Last Friday part of the SMHAFF team went to Platform to attend the premiere of Tiger, Barrowland Ballet’s new dance piece, co-created by writer Robert Alan Evans and choregrapher Natasha Gilmour. The amazing performance left us with big smiles on our faces and, for some of us, a few tears in our eyes. But these were happy tears.

Tiger is an incredibly moving piece about a dysfunctional family whose three members, Mom, Dad and their daughter Poppy, have become unable to interact and love each other. Mom spends her day cleaning obsessively, while Dad is buried in his work. Both are too wrapped up in their own worlds to notice that their daughter is lonely and unhappy.

The set is a cage-like metal structure with walls made of string designs, and buckets hanging from the ceilings and corners. The audience is sitting on all four sides of the set, which makes Tiger a very intimate experience. It felt like we were part of the show.

Almost no words are spoken, everything is expressed through music and dance. The original score is performed live by talented composer Kim Moore, hence combining with the choreography in perfect harmony. The three dancers delivered an amazing and quite physical performance, expressing a wide variety of emotions through their movements. You can feel the characters frustration, the tension between the parents, the mother slowly breaking down, and Poppy’s boredom and longing for affection as she tentatively reaches for their touch, trying to catch their attention.

Enters the tiger. Loud roars invade the room, which only Poppy (and the audience) can hear at first. And suddenly the stage becomes wild, bursting with life, colours, lively music as the tiger playfully dances around in the cage and in the audience, bringing life everywhere he goes. Mesmerizing. After a moment of anxiety and fear, the family starts lightening up, rediscovering how to love and play with each other again. The performance ends with a room filled with love and laughter; the tiger’s job is done. Visually stunning and innovative, Tiger is definitely a must see.


Written by Melanie Bavajee
Photo: Brian Hartley

Tiger and Tiger tale are touring across Scotland throughout September and October. Find out more in our What’s On section.