Saturday 21 January 2012

Almond plus Gogol plus Durrenmatt at the Little Angel Puppet Theatre

The Little Angel Theatre in association with Kneehigh are putting on 'A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings', a show 'inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short story'.

I'll declare my interest - I'm a patron at the Little Angel.

If you can imagine David Almond's 'Skellig', Gogol's 'Government Inspector' and Durrenmatt's 'The Visit' melting into each other, then you'll have some idea of what this show feels like. But of course this is a puppet show, which in this case means mostly four puppeteers operating hand-held 'rod' puppets in full vision. The stage is peopled with scores of lumpy Brueghel-like figures in a small village, dealing with the fact that an old man with wings has turned up there.

These are puppets whose facial expressions appear to change with the action (they don't - they're carved), speaking to us from different levels and corners, and from deep into some kind of journey-space far away. If you have any preconceptions about puppetry being cosy or sentimental, then this show will banish these.

It is indeed 'magical realism' - believable people dealing with unbelievable things, showing their naivete, their qualities of greed, hope and longing and then having to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart. At every point in the drama, you can find yourself asking yourself how would you behave, can you position yourself in some place that is superior to the character speaking? Perhaps, perhaps not.

This is a superb show - great for an all-age outing. I went today with my nearly-11 year old and 7 year old. Funny-sad-tense-beautiful-strange-thoughtful-ethical.

You can find the Little Angel on facebook at:
twitter: @LittleATheatre
Box Office 020 7226 1787

The theatre is in Islington half way between the tube stations of the Angel (Northern Line) and Highbury and Islington (Victoria Line, Overground and National Rail line to Welwyn and Hertford).