Theatre reviews

Text and silence in Charleville-Mézières: ‘The Maison des Ailleurs, childhood home of the poet Arthur Rimbaud and the creative wing of the Rimbaud Museum, hosted a ten-day programme of installations and events connecting puppetry and poetry. Puppet ‘readers’ sat in the rooms of the house among books by contemporary poets available for browsing, a ghostly phone in the hall played fragments of poetry, a humanette poet invited visitors to explore shadow puppetry…’ Animations Online 2019

Women, fairytales and cultural myths in Charleville-Mézières: ‘Women make daily choices about whether to fight instances of sexism directly and immediately, or to make a ‘patriarchal bargain’ and accept a given gender role. Challenging sexism can be exhausting, but it is also energy-sapping to have to decide whether each particular battle is worth fighting.’  Animations Online 2017

Miss Ophelia (Het Filiaal, The Barbican October 2012) ‘Even before she’s born, Ophelia’s parents dream of her becoming an actress. She grows up to love the theatre but she has a tiny voice, no louder than a whisper. Eventually she finds her niche as a prompter…’  Animations Online

There’s a rabbit in the moon (Vélo Théâtre, The Barbican) ‘They don’t make anthropomorphic puppets out of objects but let objects stand for themselves. Occasionally they give things a nudge to release their surreal potential. A black trombone case becomes a coffin; adding a propeller lets it become a plane too. Sometimes, Snout acknowledges, “night can be a real nightmare”.’ Animations Online

Cloud Man, Ailie Cohen ‘Wordless, curious yet timid, he is like a wild animal – and Cloudia can’t resist trapping him in a large sweet jar. She tells him he’ll be safe and have as many shortbread biscuits as he needs. But he looks with desperate yearning towards his home. She has a choice to make. The ethical moment is not overstated but it resonates, giving the encounter a sharpness that tempers its fluffy charm.’ Animations Online, 2012

Hatch festival (Little Angel Theatre) ‘Some years after his famous transformation and despite his local celebrity, the Ugly Duckling is losing his looks and has not found his place on the pond. He meets a similarly alienated hoodie-wearing duck born to a swan family, and they form a spiky friendship…’ Animations Online 30

My Mother Told Me Not To Stare (Action Transport/Theatre Hullabaloo) ‘Once upon a time, the narrator tells us, a boy called Bobby was delivered by stork to a cobbler and his wife in the town of Upper Crumble. They keep him in a cupboard till he’s old enough to work, and then exploit him brutally in the best traditions of Victorian gothic…’ Animations Online 30

Hunger (TinkerTing/Pickled Image) ‘The unnamed writer at the centre of Hunger has a skull-like, bald head. Dark eyesockets are concealed by spectacles. His top lip protrudes, with a drooping articulated mouth giving him a permanently disagreeable expression…’ Animations Online 28

Shun-kin (Complicite) ‘Shun-kin is about delicate sensations – a dim black and white photo of a woman’s face, an inky city on a hill at night, water poured through a bamboo pipe, the sigh made by sliding screens, the fluttering of wings…’ Animations Online 26

The Soldier with No Name (The Winged Cranes) ‘Claude Cahun described her art as “the impossible realised in a magic mirror”. Her photographs – troubling assemblages of everyday objects, bodies treated as objects, selves doubled, conjoined and fragmented – invite animation… Animations Online 26

La Fin des Terres (Compagnie Philippe Genty) ‘The trap doors and sliding screens, the objects that float through the air unaided, recall Victorian magic tricks. But, as Philippe Genty says, “reality imitates illusion”. The illusions of earlier eras have materialised in our own. Tricks involving transportation – a person appearing in two places at once, a letter delivered instantaneously – have become everyday facts. La Fin des Terres takes place in our time, in our nightmares…’ Animations Online 19

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