Any show that advertises itself with the warning of ‘contains puppet violence’ inevitably creates intrigue but the puppetry is by far the most exciting part of this innovative and imaginative production.
Day has created a magical show overflowing with creativity that can’t help but infect.
What’s in the surface of a bubble? It’s a good question posed by writer-director Edward Day and one intriguingly approached. In this world, if you believe things come to be, making the mind of the masses the most powerful weapon available. Michelle (Line Møllerchristensen), a daughter who possesses an overactive imagination, encounters Nathan (Adam Cridland), a slave boy who appears to live bereft of it. In this chance encounter Michelle swears to forgo her imagination and instead she and Nathan embark on the terrifying task of creating a world concentrated in physicality, a world in which we witness the inadvertent creation of hunger, thirst and even death.
The power of imagination becomes a palpable physicality; this is a world in which anything can happen in the blink of an eye, the hint of a thought. The influence from Ecole Jacques Lecoq is clear and made much of throughout and to great effect and it is often in these small moments of deft clowning, mime and puppetry that the performers come to life most vividly onstage. In fact it is often the smallest twist of a wrist to switch a mask round that compellingly transforms a character.
This attuned physicality works to enhance the incredibly ambitious imaginative scope of Day’s storyline, an entire world that itself thrives off creativity. Day himself takes on the role of ‘Gold Bird’ brilliantly, and the scenes in which the cast congregate onstage are by far the strongest, whether as a flock of birds or a herd of intriguing creatures as each performer morphs smoothly between their roles, one mask on their front, another behind. Amelie Leroy most notably seamlessly shifts between the conjoined characters of a husband and wife with Andy Serkis-like precision - a mere tilt of the head and a drop in voice all she requires to captivate.
However, despite the admirable reach of this production at times the dialogue is shaky and the musical interludes, although at times hauntingly beautiful also feel rushed, mere additions to a play that ultimately works best with the aid of the audience’s imagination and the tangled limbs of its performers. All the actors are strongest when working with the plethora of masks that adorn the stage, and this strength by comparison weakens other renditions that lack the conviction of this impressive puppetry.
With time this production will ripen. Day has created a magical show overflowing with creativity that can’t help but infect.