Beowulf

‘Puppet Beowulf?’ my flatmate asked me with a raised eyebrow and quizzical expression as I left the flat to review Atomic Force Production’s new show. But not only is this show definitely a hit: it’s also one of the best constructed and intricate shows I’ve seen this year.

It left me with more questions I need to ask myself than I thought I would find.

The show retells the Old English epic of the hero Beowulf – who travels to the home of the Danes to fight the infamous monster Grendel – through poetry, live music and, yes, puppetry. The story is told by a poet, played by Tom Dussek, who guides us through the narrative and sets each scene. Dussek is a natural storyteller who can command the room with ease and, such is his charm and talent, he can transform a couple of carefully constructed ladders on a box into a Danish mead hall with just a few words.

The show achieves much with very little, using only limited props and set. The team relies on strong lighting and sound design to set the mood and scene perfectly. Live music complements every moment in the story, be it the thudding drum beat when danger approaches or the quiet, eerie sounds of the electric keyboard.

The script itself is well composed. The story is told in verse, which rolls off Dussek’s tongue and keeps the play close to the poem’s origins as an oral tale. The show is surprisingly poignant, weaving a rather intelligent argument about the nature of stories and why we as people need them, into the overall plot. It left me with more questions I need to ask myself than I thought I would find.

The real strong point of the show is the mood it creates. All of the elements came together to make me feel that I was a child again, listening to someone telling me a thrilling story and having it all play out in my mind. I found myself oohing and aahing when Beowulf took to sea on his ship and gasping during his fight with Grendel. 

Reviews by Joseph McAulay

Pleasance Courtyard

Great British Mysteries: 1599?

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Kill the Beast: Director's Cut

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

No Kids

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Dietrich: Natural Duty

★★★★
Summerhall

DollyWould

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Ulster American

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A contemporary version of the Anglo-Saxon epic, combining tabletop and shadow puppetry, live music and poetry. A poet performs the tale in verse, bringing the story to life with a memorable cast of puppet characters, each with their own unique voice and style. They debate, dance and battle their way through a story about bravery, fame and humanity. ‘An excellent, modern, family-friendly tale ... The Saxon storytellers would be proud’ (Argus). Sold out at Brighton Fringe 2014. Part of the Sea of Stories season at Sweet Venues.

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Prince of Egypt

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets