FRINGE 2013: Theatre – 3 Tales of Woe – Ayers House – 2K

Shadow puppetry is not often presented nowadays and it’s nice that there are still young people out there who are taking the time to keep it going as an art form.

Amber Forbes and her assistant present three tales via this medium. Each of the stories is pre-recorded with backing music added to heighten the mood. The first, Poe’s The Raven, is oft referenced in popular culture and will be familiar to most. Though the feelings of trepidation and unease brought about by the prose in this piece fit nicely with the dark mood associated with shadow puppetry, the story itself does not involve a lot of action. Consequently, many scenes are repetitive. This is also a major problem with the second piece, a not overly engrossing extract from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, in which the scene does not actually change and the only movement is very basic.

During The Raven, one could focus on the poetic stylised narration when the puppetry was not engaging. The storyteller does not seem to be confident or competent with the nuances of voice needed to deliver the feeling in A Christmas Carol. The final story, Azathoth, a piece from HP Lovecraft, possibly comes out the best of the three. While it could not be considered well known and is a little difficult to follow, it does provide the performers with the most active, descriptive, and thus visually adaptable, dialogue.

There are a few technical issues that also need addressing. Throughout the presentation the flood lamp used to backlight the screen is visible to the audience, which distracts from the action and leaves ghosts dancing across your vision during the blackouts. While the pre-recording of the readings and music may have been practical in terms of not needing to have extra performers either available each night or crammed into the small space, a live rendition would have provided a more enthralling experience. In addition, at times it seemed that the puppeteers struggled to keep up with the pace of the pre-recorded dialogue and the clumping and bumping from backstage suggested disorganisation and was disrupting.

Kudos to the performers for bringing this type of show to the stage, however further consideration needed to be given to the adaptability and appropriateness of the material to the medium, and the presentation needs to be tightened up.

Kryztoff Rating: 2K

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