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ENO
Madam Butterfly
The Coliseum, London
November 2005

Reviewed by Dorothy Max Prior
Photo: Johan Persson Photography/ENO

Opera, in theory, provides a wonderful opportunity for the creation of a piece of ‘total theatre’ - a potential for the merge of music and visual theatre into one fantastic whole. The ENO’s Madam Butterfly achieves that totality (to use a fashionable word), the irony being that it is a film director (Anthony Minghella) rather than a theatre-maker who brings it all together. But of course to those familiar with the mores of visual theatre that isn’t that surprising, as after all what is visual theatre if it isn’t a series of moving pictures?

And what beautiful pictures! A wave of geishas appearing over the horizon, clad in poppy red, fuchsia, turquoise, their gorgeous forms and colours reflected in the enormous angled mirror over the stage (which reminds me of Lepage’s Far Side of the Moon – perhaps he should have beat Minghella to it and cannibalised his own ideas for his recent opera direction debut at the Royal Opera House?). A series of screens that slide open and shut, creating rooms and chambers, the secrets they conceal revealed by the mirror. Lanterns dancing on rods, like a family of moons in the night sky. Trails of billowing red silk representing a river of blood in the death scene. I could go on – in purely visual terms, it is one of the most sumptuously stunning stage presentations I have witnessed.

The performances are melodramatic rather than dramatic – how much of this is an intentional nod to Japanese theatre traditions and how much the inevitability of working within a form in which intensely emotional dialogue is all sung is hard for me to say, with my limited experience of live opera, and I would find it hard to comment with authority on the interpretation of Puccini’s music – but it sounded wonderful to my ears.

Which brings us to the reason for an opera review in Animations! In a decision that caused consternation to some opera fans and critics, Minghella decided to bring in a company of puppeteers to create some of the characters in the production – most crucially, Butterfly’s young son. The decision to use up-and-coming company Blind Summit (founded by Nick Barnes and Mark Down) was one that paid off. The puppets are beautifully crafted, the animation absolutely spot-on. The child-puppet, far from wooden, seems more real than the human characters; his every gesture nervously delicate, the jumpy puppy-dog energy of a young boy captured perfectly. Whenever he is on stage, our attention is drawn to him. Miraculously, his tiny gestures of hands and feet are not lost in the vast space that is the Coliseum stage – this surely due to the skills of the puppeteers, who are visible and clad in traditional masked black outfits. One lovely touch in the overall vision and direction of the piece is the way in which the puppeteers’ dress is echoed in the chorus of similarly clad performers who move screens or carry lanterns. As befits a story in which the tragic outcome is known by the audience before the show even starts, this gives a sense of the whole production as a story that is being engineered from the outside by the unseen powers of fate or the gods.

Madam Butterfly’s theatrically excessive death scene is counter-balanced beautifully by the sight of the small and frightened-looking, boy-puppet, blindfolded so he cannot see what the audience is witnessing. Once again, we are shown that a puppet can be the vessel for the main emotional thrust of the production, reaching hearts that might otherwise be too overcome by spectacle to respond to the core tragedy of the story.

And we cannot end without a mention of the very end. Do these people know how to take curtain calls! This becomes a whole extra scene in itself as waves of people flow to the front to take bow after bow. And there, right at the end, side-by-side with the Prima Donna is the wonderful boy-puppet, accompanied by the puppeteers of Blind Summit, who remove their masks to tumultuous applause. This is the moment that British puppetry has been waiting for, as rising stars of the artform are not only asked to participate in the creating of a major work, but also stand acknowledged in one of the high temples of live performance, the Coliseum.

PETER KETTURKAT
Theatre of Objects
Skipton Puppet Festival
September 2005
Reviewed by
Beccy Smith

Amongst the rich sea of diverse storytelling and inventive tales that the Skipton festival offered, Peter Ketturkat’s Theatre of Objects stood out like a bizarre and recalcitrant octopus. Multicoloured, ever-transforming and squirting ink at anyone who dared to second-guess its surreal narrative, Ketturkat transported his audience to a deeply imaginative world of simple pleasures and impulses animating the most mundane of objects.

Ketturkat’s work is renowned for its playful reinvention of object theatre. A long narrow playboard provides a simple wide-screen framing, the lighting state is fixed and the bizarrely varied sound effects which voice the strange objects of his world are created one-man-band-style by the two performers hidden within. Yet the precision and aptitude with which Ketturkat characterises his objects, testing every physical property of each item, matching movement to shape, rhythm to mechanisms and deftly mixing human qualities with the surreal, give a sense that we’re witnessing a liberation of the essence within each form. There’s no overarching structure to the piece; instead spoons, corkscrews, garlic crushers and tubing (and a host of objects which looked familiar but which I couldn’t name) seemed to live out their inner logic before us, before vanishing back to obscurity and, presumably, the kitchen drawer or garden shed - but remaining forever transfigured in our imagination.

For a British audience of a certain age, it’s unavoidably reminiscent of Button Moon (it may be the slide whistle) and, though gratifying, the forced demystification provided by a very thorough demonstration of just how each object had worked its magic seemed to overstate the case a little. However, this remained an exciting reminder of the essential playfulness and power of object transformation, indeed the power of puppetry itself.

MOVINGSTAGE MARIONETTE COMPANY
Out of the Heart of Darkness
The Puppet Theatre Barge
October 2005

Reviewed by Beccy Smith


Conrad’s novella is a holy cow of literature, but following the recent successes of adaptations such as His Dark Materials and the puppetry production of Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, it’s great to see the Puppet Barge winning support to punch its weight artistically with this impressively inventive literary revision.

Gren Middleton has made the provocative dramaturgical decision to draw the story much closer to our time. His framing device is a witty plea alleged to be from the wife of the deposed Zaire president Mobutu, but employing the template of the e-scam so familiar to any contemporary audience. The bait is not gold but diamonds, and the dress is modern. Middleton wants to bring the story ‘out of the heart of darkness’ and closer to a modern audience, and his script succeeds in this, enriched by characters and ideas distinguished by their familiarity, from the identifiably inept, Kafkaesque border officials, to the inscrutable doctor and his heartfelt pronouncements on depression, to the sexual ambivalence of the young man who idolises Kurtz.

The presentation is sumptuous; with the narrow cinematic aperture of the stage stunningly lit by Nele de Craecker and Gren Middleton, and the stage images supplemented by tonally evocative abstract backcloths, whose patterns, neither western nor African, capture the ambivalence of the story’s approach to its subject (and indeed the subject itself).

Against this changeful and evocative backdrop, Movingstage again present some of the finest marionette manipulation available to British audiences. The seven-strong troupe articulate complex scenes of delicate emotion, expansive casts (an entire panel of immigration judges was particularly memorable), and even choreographed frenzy: indeed, the sinister dancing figures conjured moments before Kurtz’s death to enact a mysterious masked ritual genuinely express the chilling ‘otherness’ of the world portrayed. My only criticism would be that the pre-recorded voices, whilst generally well acted, can divorce us from the activity performed, rendering the puppetry and staging mere imagery when all the vital ingredients are here for a theatrical experience that can be so much more.

FOLKBEARD FANTASY
The Fall of the House of Usherettes.
Corn Exchange, Brighton
November 2005
Reviewed by Dorothy Max Prior

On stage is a stage-within-a-stage, and to the side of it two enormous statues, which you just know are going to come to life. They don’t until the very end of the show, but instead – like the gods in a Greek tragedy – keep an aloof eye on the frantic and ludicrous shenanigans of the poor living creatures below. Forkbeard Fantasy are fond of rummaging in the chest-drawers of culture to provide fodder for their imagination. In this case, it is Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, which is the loose inspiration for a story set in an old cinema, The Empire – thus giving ample opportunities for the company’s trademark dipping in and out of the screen, as well as providing the frame for an investigation into the history of early cinema that cleverly combines fact with foolish and funny nonsense (although sometimes it is hard to know which is which). The Usherettes of the title are a bevy of witch-y sisters who steal their lines from Macbeth (Shakespeare being another popular company source).

This show is a revival from 1995, and typical in many ways of the company’s work – they have made a reputation for themselves over the past three decades for their fantastic (in all senses of the word) integrations of filmed and live action. Others may play at this technique, but Forkbeard are the masters. In their productions, a screen can be anything: an umbrella, a piece of paper – and most effectively in this show, a great fat balloon-head, which turns a live character into a sort of hybrid object-person animated by film.

As in other shows, The Fall of the House of Usherettes throws everything into the bag in its pursuit of theatrical effect. Theirs is a wonderfully messy theatre, the stage crammed with whirring analogue projectors; actors who manage to make three a crowd as they morph from one character to another, often meeting their doubles on-screen; and bits of set that get appropriated as props or indeed spring to life – which brings us back to those statues, who eventually tire of the human folly they are witnessing and put an end to it all in a suitably overblown and grandiose way.

For anyone interested in object animation, automata and theatrical illusion, this is a show that will appeal. One of the many pleasures of their shows is the visibility of the techniques used, which far from detracting from their effectiveness, adds to it. Forkbeard, as always, can be relied on to entertain whilst simultaneously commenting on the nature of popular entertainment – a clever double-whammy. Theatre will eat itself, and Forkbeard Fantasy will be at the head of the table at the feast!


LA CONICA/ LACONICA
Shadows of Found Objects
Norwich Puppet Theatre’s International Celebration of Puppetry, October 2005

Reviewed by Beccy Smith


This production’s part in the diverse programming of the International Celebration of Puppetry Festival at Norwich merits special attention for its interdisciplinary approach and divisive effect upon the audience. Using a series of objects garnered from the streets of Barcelona (including traffic cones, barbed wire, string, netting, twigs, cups and a cheese-grater) the company create what can only be described as a synaesthetic experience for the audience, carefully marrying skilfully constructed images with well chosen music to create a series of ‘scenes’ varying in tone and colour.

The majority of these images are essentially abstract: moving patterns of ribs, contours, reflection and texture. Some sense of dialogue or tension is at times present between the qualities of the things themselves, gradually or suddenly revealed, and the beautiful, alien images cast by their shadows. There are moments when a relationship or narrative seems to suggest itself, however: the skate-dance of two brittle twigs or the moment when a ridged form seems to resolve itself momentarily into a city skyline behind which the lights of industry or apocalypse glow. One of the most moving images created a horizon-like shadow above which a murky amber ‘sun’ began to rise. This was quickly overtaken however by a perfectly clear, marbled cream moon. As the moon traversed and set, the sun sank once more to a sliver of liquid light on the horizon accompanied by evocative Arabic flute. There was a powerfully elemental feel to the scene.

This is object theatre taken to its furthest conclusion and in doing so it starts to reinvent itself, becoming more ‘object’ than theatre, asking the audience to consider the art of transformation in and of itself rather than in service of a dramatic exchange. It could be installation art, looping in a back room at the Tate Modern (although it is thrillingly precise live). However, placing it in a theatrical setting invites the audience to seek narrative, to identify their world and feelings in the images shown, to be actively involved in creating the ‘drama’, in its broadest possible sense.

This is a lot to ask of an audience, and it was clear that many felt disengaged by the procession of images and sound. But to situate puppetry, and an example of shadow manipulation of a very high calibre, on the edges of performance, live art and installation is vital work in the engagement of new audiences, and in this age of artistic cross reference and hybridisation of form and process, tone and content, the piece had much to offer the theatrically adventurous.


FAULTY OPTIC
Horsehead
Komedia, Brighton
November 2005

Reviewed by Dorothy Max Prior


Faulty Optic’s darkly humorous productions always have a nightmarish quality. Horsehead has many features familiar from earlier shows which combine to create the desired effect: knobbly, cranky puppet characters trapped in Beckett-esque no-man-landscapes; eerie electronic soundscapes punctuated with odd clunks and hums; a switch from live puppet action to a mix of live and filmed-live-before-your-eyes video, giving the viewer a displaced double experience that plays with scale and notions of what is ‘real’ in the field of perception; Heath Robinson-inspired sets full of ingenious whirring and whizzing moving parts.

But in their latest production, Faulty Optic up the ante – introducing us to Horsehead, who is half a pantomime horse and destined to become one of the most deeply, darkly, disturbing nightmare characters of all time. The love interest is provided by a pole-dancing puppet girl who has an unfortunate accident and, following a grotesque amputation, becomes the other half of the horse. Think the shadow side of the Ahlbergs’ Mr and Mrs Hay the Horse; think mutilated Muffin the Mule (another half-horse of course) as viewed through a bad acid trip; think of all your childhood nightmares about toys, clothes and other inanimate objects coming to life at night (I will never look a hobby-horse in the eye again). Oh please let me wake up…

We meet Horsehead on screen, alive and kicking, and later dead and maggot-ridden in a wonderful scene that has something of a Swankmeyer quality; we encounter Horsehead on stage as a lumpy-pillow animated head, and most menacingly as a mask-puppet-human hybrid, towering terrifyingly over the inmates of a sanatorium.

A break with Faulty Optic tradition comes in the use of an onstage narrator cum sound-effects man, who gives an appropriate Victorian sideshow feel to the production: Horsehead fits well with the current theatrical preoccupation with burlesque, variety and circus as metaphor and source material, and in its odd and twisted way adds commentary to the question of the role of the freak within popular entertainment forms.

There are a few (unintentionally) clunky moments here and there, and sometimes the pace is a little slacker than it could be, but this I am sure is just because it is very early days for this new show, not due to any intrinsic problems with the dramaturgy of the piece. With an appearance at the London International Mime Festival (January 2006) on the horizon, Faulty Optic’s Horsehead will I’m sure be galloping off to great future success after this early outing in Brighton. Fantastic stuff – a trip into the darkest recesses of our collective popular culture psyche.


GREEN GINGER
Rust
Tobacco Factory, Bristol
Nov 2005

Reviewed by Beccy Smith


Green Ginger’s latest show invites us into a typically surreal yet provincial universe: their stage peopled with rusty industrial hulks; illicit underwater-recorded trading; mutated DJs and romance on the factory floor. Unwitting hero Spike has unusual powers when stimulated by quality punk (‘When I dance…strange things happen’). He must team up with the renegade Mutant Brothers, underwater DJs plotting revenge upon the local industrial oppressor; polluter of both waters and minds via his pervasive Presbyterian radio streaming.

Dedicated to the memory of John Peel, the show sets the oppressive visions of industrialism and ideological fascism against the carnivalesque individualism of irreverent music, circus and love. These stark parallels make the story a simple one – it is, in essence, a fairytale – but what transforms it into a piece of work engaging for an adult audience is the diverse grotesqueries of the cast of characters and excellent comic writing.

Paranoid Lionel-the-Vinyl, conflicted between drug-induced nervousness and music-inspired bravado as his alter-ego the Groovemaster, is a great comic creation. The bizarre back-story, brilliantly interpolated by cartoon projections - involving the accidental amputation of a bearded lady as the cause of the antihero’s fall from grace - is inspired.

Flick Ferdinando’s direction makes inventive use of the playboard’s multiple apertures, keeping the episodic script’s pace moving throughout. There are some lovely visual moments: real water spurting from holes drilled into a small-scale submarine wheeled onto the forestage, and the revelation of a ship and a sub bobbing along the top of the stage on ‘waves’ created by a huge turning drill bit is both visually and dramaturgically satisfying. The framing device – having the puppeteers arrive as crew to jauntily take their positions behind the playboard, and peppering the puppetry with live action interludes and shanties on the forestage - give an enjoyably complicit, folksy feel.

The performances are excellent: the expressive foam clap-mouths brought vividly to life by Chris Pire, Marc Parrett and Vic Llewellyn who handle well a script complex in action and dialect. Special mention should be made of the cross-manipulation and lip-syncing of the Siamese twins.
Back in their native Bristol and celebrating their 25th anniversary, this premiere was almost a salon show for Green Ginger and the packed house roared its approval - largely merited in this inventive, well-written and satisfyingly bizarre show.


FULLBEAM VISUAL THEATRE
The Man Who Discovered That Women Lay Eggs
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Mill Studio, Guildford
November 2005

Reviewed by Penny Francis



The publicity leaflet for this show promises a ‘bawdy, enthralling and eye-opening performance’. It told the story – at some length and in some detail – of the gradual, indeed centuries-long, discovery by scientifically inclined men, of the source of a woman’s sexual pleasure; which pleasure was most likely to induce the internal matter which might or might not contain the eggs of the title.

The vehicles of the story were a number of historical characters (puppets), masked actors, and large props, helping along the central trio, a working-from-home scientist husband and his brainless wife (both humans, unmasked) and the wife’s even more brainless spinster sister (a life-size puppet held in front of the actress). The set was a long dissecting table surrounded by various statues and objects depicting or suggesting the female genital region, and a number of dead animals. The style of the depictions, at first obviously humorous, became more and more realistic.

The exploration of the female organs was explicitly shown in large cut-out pictures, and I’m afraid that neither the humour (the acting was send-up Victorian melodramatic declamation, mostly) nor the rather surprising nature of the discovery were of a quality to engage. I think the delicacy of the subject demanded wit, not farce; suggestion and subtlety, not full-on crudity. Indeed, I was weak-stomached and embarrassed enough to be forced to leave, pleading the onset of a cold.

Fullbeam has a good idea, here staged by a production team numbering over a dozen. Very many people and institutions of note are thanked in the programme for their involvement, not least the Bristol Old Vic. But the treatment lets it down, in every department.
Perhaps an audience younger than myself, more used to the broad brushstrokes employed in this show (literally and metaphorically) would be entertained?


DYNAMIC NEW ANIMATIONS
Baba Yaga - Boney Legs
Jackson’s Lane, London
November 2005
Reviewed by Eleanor Margolies


Baba Yaga is a terrifying witch who lives deep in the Russian forest. The design of this production (which is both directed and designed by Rachel Riggs) picks up Russian motifs beautifully: the heroine, Lisa (Emma Lewis) wears a red kerchief, a bodice laced with red ribbon and an embroidered white skirt. Her pocket companion, Little Doll, hatches out of a painted matryoshka wooden doll. A landscape is created by zigzags of white sheet strung between wooden poles, each finished with a wrought-iron spiral – a perfect mixture of the domestic and mystical – on which Lisa’s home and the forest are projected as shadow silhouettes, evoking folk art papercuts.

There are beautiful moments: a man swings a huge white flag through the air until it catches the projected image of a horseman; the shadow seems to gallop on the flowing cloth, dissolving as he rides away. And funny moments: acrobatic Lisa tricks the witch’s magical gate (alive with painted eyes) off its hinges as it copies her stamping feet and ever-deeper bows. The witch’s hut - which stands on chicken’s legs - unfolds ingeniously into a glove-puppet booth. There is plenty to look at and enjoy.

However, crucial turning points in the story are obscured by clumsy scene changes, slack writing and (above all) muffled voices. Adam Bennett has a virtuoso talent for characterisation which he demonstrates in other DNA productions, such as the joyous Chicken Licken. Unfortunately, in this show a microphone and voice manipulation technology deprive us of our visceral sense of where the voices come from (especially important when the objects used as puppets have little inherent movement). So Baba Yaga, her gruesome watch-skulls and the wicked stepmother are easily confused voice-overs.

This contributes to the sense of haste in the dramatisation of some of the most poetic moments in the tale: the binding of the enchanted birch trees, the comb that turns into a thicket, the wheat that grows overnight. These images could resonate for spectators of all ages, but the staging needs to allow more time to establish their fairy-tale truth.

LITTLE ANGEL COMPANY
Fantastic Mr Fox
Little Angel Theatre, London
September 2005

Reviewed by Beccy Smith


Steve Tiplady’s production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox energetically transposes the story into a theatrical key. Families in the packed house were completely engaged by the dynamic combination of rousing sing-along songs, the drama of the chase and the hugely engaging characters brought to life by the tireless team of four performers.

Sarah Woods’ script perfectly captured the slightly twisted and gleeful tone of Dahl’s story, from the moral certitude of the family of foxes trapped in increasingly dire straights underground to the satisfyingly grotesque attributes of Mr Fox’s sworn enemies, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. After an opening slightly over-laden with exposition, Woods kept the action pacy, yet leaving enough room for some stand-out moments of characterization (Badger’s heartfelt ‘I love you Foxy’ was especially enjoyable and the kids loved the varied characters of the three fox cubs) - not to mention show-stopping dance numbers, complete with coordinated chickens!

The performances of the four-strong company drove the production with great energy, filling stage and auditorium with relish as they created a host of memorable characters. Jonathan Broughton’s Badger was a fruity delight and Caroline Partridge merits special mention for the tremendous range of her performance from Mrs Fox to Boggis to a territorially tipsy Rat. Oliver Taylor as Mr Fox offered an enjoyably ambiguous heart to the piece, occasionally feeling slightly too laconic for the action but undeniably cool.

Peter O Rourke’s set was also a pleasure, his richly coloured panels and textures distilling the essential dynamism of the production. Ingenious as ever, the deconstruction of the set by enormous human diggers was a satisfying and tangible rendering of the farmers apocalyptic destruction of the forest, and the varying scale and design of the central characters puppets consistently surprised and excited the audience.
A rollicking and satisfying theatrical imagining of one of Dahl’s best-loved tales: tasty as a shed load of roast chickens!

AKHE
Wet Wedding
Riverside Studios, London
November 2005

Reviewed by Matthew Isaac Cohen


The audience enters a place of work. Two brawny bearded men with clown-like white makeup, one bare-chested and wearing an apron, the other in boxing shorts, prowl the stage, snapping whips, pouring and consuming and spilling wine and champagne. There is smoke and clanking sounds. A saxophone player, just offstage, plays fragmented jazz riffs. Ropes and pulleys are everywhere. A pair of hands (belonging to a person hidden inside a cubicle) pulls a pulley that stretches across the stage. Towering over all this is a wooden cubical frame suspended over a covered trench. Washing appears on the pulley, the bearded men don sopping wet shirts, the saxophone player walks up the aisle to the back of the theatre, and the house lights dim.

Then begins - or perhaps more accurately continues - a wordless performance, more rite than theatre: Akhe’s Wet Wedding. And what a wedding it is. Akhe is a St Petersburg company founded in 1989 by visual artists Maxim Isaev and Pavel Semchenko. Its first forays into live performance were happenings in parks, stairwells and other public spaces, fusing absurd actions, bizarre props and frantic intensity. It has consistently been interested in the animation of objects, and the fragmentation of human performers into puppet-like things. Wet Wedding began its life as an outdoor performance and might well be described as a post-puppet performance in which the entire stage is an object of performance and actors have as much (or as little) autonomy as things. It is composed of a series of actions and tableaux which, when compiled, tell the old story of boy marries girl.

First, boy needs to be socialized. Hoisted out of a pile of manure by a pulley, jerking and protesting without words on his harness, the boy is a wild child wearing only a g-string; sprayed with beans and bathed in dry ice on an elevated platform by one of the bearded men, given a tattered suit, a straw hat and a pair of glasses to wear, the boy becomes an adult man. The man with glasses smiles and embraces the bearded man: they are equals, compatriots. The hands pulling the pulley are meanwhile subjected to a similar routine of discipline. Powdered, whipped, forced to crush an egg, the hands are less than human, not quite a thing. But then the person emerges from the cubicle and with an all-too-human smile and embrace, she becomes a person.

This, then, is our cast: a man and a woman who are only people by virtue of their animation by two bearded, whip-snapping wine guzzlers. The man and woman have crepes strapped to their faces and are teased and led blindly to each other by the tinkling of cocktail mixers. They eat the crepes off each other’s faces, and bask in their sameness as fellow human beings. The courtship proceeds apace. The huge square trench is uncovered to reveal a pool of water, which over the performance becomes increasingly polluted with powders, empty wine bottles, fluids. String puppets dance in anticipation of consummation. As the foursome stir the pool with poles, strings attached to the poles animate pulleys - a hammer, an effigy strapped to a plank, planks attached to a dress. A slanted table is placed in the pool, the woman pours wine and other liquids, and the man catches it in a glass and consumes the noxious mixture. The two bearded men stretch out on the ground, watching, amused. The man and woman sprinkle the table with powder, the woman lights the table on fire, the man collapses and is stripped back to his g-string, as the woman puts on bridal attire and smokes a cigarette. A fish on a wooden tray is cast adrift in the pool. The man disembowels it, covering himself in its guts. But he also discovers a message on a piece of paper hidden inside the fish and reading this makes him a person once more. The man reassumes his dignity and the couple exits as the cube is elevated above the stage once more, swinging back and forth, back and forth. A few final spasms of the saxophone, applause, a Russian patriotic hymn, and the audience exits sludging through the murky puddles the performance has left behind.

Wet Wedding is a spectacle better experienced than summarized, a challenge for the intellect, but also potentially a joy for any child. Though clearly intended for an international audience, it is also intensely Russian in its tone and sensibilities, harking back to constructivist experiments of the 1920s and the rich traditions of Russian object theatre. It is an allegory of love and hope, alienation and cruelty in the polluted, alcohol-clouded and absurd environment of post-Soviet Russia, where the indignities of the Soviet past are more than a memory, and the security of a market-driven economy less than a certainty. Painting on a canvas far larger than typically mobilized by British companies emerging from puppet and object theatre, Akhe, along with Argentinean puppet-based company El Perférico de Objectos and Quebec’s Ex Machina, is poised at the crest of the wave of performance between human and puppet theatre. This theatre makes for a giddy surf-ride for all spectators.

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>eDITION 15

REVIEWS IN eDITION 15:

ENO
Madam Butterfly
The Coliseum, London
November 2005
Reviewed by Dorothy Max Prior

PETER KETTURKAT
Theatre of Objects
Skipton Puppet Festival
September 2005
Reviewed by Beccy Smith

MOVINGSTAGE MARIONETTE COMPANY
Out of the Heart of Darkness
The Puppet Theatre Barge
October 2005
Reviewed by Beccy Smith

FOLKBEARD FANTASY
The Fall of the House of Usherettes.
Corn Exchange, Brighton
November 2005
Reviewed by Dorothy Max Prior

LA CONICA/ LACONICA
Shadows of Found Objects
Norwich Puppet Theatre’s International Celebration of Puppetry, October 2005
Reviewed by Beccy Smith

FAULTY OPTIC
Horsehead
Komedia, Brighton
November 2005
Reviewed by Dorothy Max Prior

GREEN GINGER
Rust
Tobacco Factory, Bristol
Nov 2005
Reviewed by Beccy Smith

FULLBEAM VISUAL THEATRE
The Man Who Discovered That Women Lay Eggs
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Mill Studio, Guildford
November 2005
Reviewed by Penny Francis

DYNAMIC NEW ANIMATIONS
Baba Yaga - Boney Legs
Jackson’s Lane, London
November 2005
Reviewed by Eleanor Margolies

LITTLE ANGEL COMPANY
Fantastic Mr Fox
Little Angel Theatre, London
September 2005

Reviewed by Beccy Smith

AKHE
Wet Wedding
Riverside Studios, London
November 2005
Reviewed by Matthew Isaac Cohen


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