PotatoRoom productions

created by Gavin Glover formerly from FaultyOptic Theatre of Animation



The Tin Forest

An installation/performance for an audience of 10
National Theatre of Scotland

Inspired by the book by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson
adapted and directed by Graham McLaren 2014
Gavin Glover Associate Designer and Director

3x 1:12 and 1:500 scale model boxes viewed by the audience through glass
2x full sized puppets designed and constructed and directed



A little grumpy old man, the last man alive perhaps, lives in a world of twisted metal and broken scrap. For years he sorts through it and sifts it and organises it and slowly he builds himself a tin forest inspired by a tired worn out wildlife documentary that he plays over an over again in his shed.
Miraculously one day a large bird appears. Curious he thinks to feed it but the bird wants more and more until all his food is gone. The bird flies off leaving a trail of shite, the man follows but it has gone, he is angry and sad and tired of his lonely life.


He sleeps and dreams until one day he wakes to find his little house surrounded by jungle. Wildlife roars around him, he hears noises on the roof and sees movement in the bushes. But it is not some marauding tiger about to eat him it is his bird now nesting near his window with a single chick feeding off the fruits of this new paradise.The old man's world is reborn, perhaps he has died and gone to heaven or perhaps through his lifetimes work he has set the seed for a more positive future.

The old man ponders his life
Photo: Jassy Earl


The old man is stunned by
the outside world when
he is drawn out of his solitude
photo: Peter Dibdin

1:12 scale Model box 1
Viewed through glass by audience

The old man kicks his metal bird
out of frustration in his yard
photo: Tim Morozzo


1:12 scale Model box 1
Viewed through glass by audience

Whilst out collecting the old man
discovers a huge bird screeching at him.
So he decides to feed it.
photo: Tim Morozzo


1:12 scale Model box 1
Viewed through glass by audience

The desolate ship yard where
the old man last sees the bird
before it disappears
photo: Tim Morozzo

1:500 scale Vista of a broken city
Viewed through glass by audience
photo: Tim Morozzo
1:500 scale Vista of a broken city
Viewed through glass by audience
photo: Tim Morozzo
the birds
the cast

Darren Brownlie
Steven Clyde
Pete Collins
Angela Darcy
John Kazek
Harry Ward

Graham McLaren - Director and Designer
Gavin Glover - Associate Director and Designer
Rebecca Hamilton - Associate Designer
Philippa Tomlin - Associate Artist
Iain Heggie - Dramaturg
Kai Fischer - Lighting Designer
Matt Padden - Sound Designer
Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio - Video Design


Produced in association with Scottish Youth Theatre and supported by Glasgow Life, Creative Scotland, Homecoming 2014, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Arts and Business Scotland



The Guardian

4 stars

The Tin Forest

A rich, desolate blend of art, puppetry and folk music
South Rotunda, Glasgow
This gorgeously detailed promenade performance evokes a spooky, lonely world to tell a tale of post-industrial regeneration.

Mark Fisher

Tuesday 29 July 2014 12.39 BST

Regeneration … National Theatre of Scotland's The Tin Forest. Photograph: Harry Ward

Did Graham McLaren conceive his adaptation of The Tin Forest on a rainy day? That would have been in keeping with the gloomy interiors that characterise his gorgeously detailed promenade performance.

As with A Christmas Carol, his last National Theatre of Scotland collaboration with puppeteer Gavin Glover, The Tin Forest is bleak, barren and wintry.

On a day when the temperature has soared to 27C and the lithe athletes of the Commonwealth Games are sprinting by outside, it is all the more of a leap to process the director's rich and desolate blend of art installation, puppet show, storytelling and folk gig. Based on the children's book by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson, The Tin Forest is a tale of post-industrial regeneration in which an old man brings new life to an arid environment of iron railings, lampposts and tin cans.
Like the similarly inspired Huff by Shona Reppe and Andy Manley, you experience the show in a small party, moving from room to spooky room to piece together the story. It begins in a David Lynch-like hotel corridor where a bank of old-fashioned telephones beckon you to listen. It's an alienating introduction to a lonely world, made only marginally more welcoming in the subsequent rooms: a hut stuffed with mechanical antiques, a workshop where a glassy-eyed puppet tries to get a metal bird to fly and a museum where Angela Darcy plays a curious cross between a German showgirl and a gallery attendant.
It feels as if there's a scene missing after we see the first signs of natural life in a garden shed, but there's a striking finale in the main hall, where a vast image of St Kilda is projected around the curving rotunda wall and four musicians play jigs, reels and Glasgow folk favourites – a sign that life has bloomed once more out of this barren wasteland.