Not A Wooden Performance Anywhere
The enduring tradition and reputation of Movingstage Marionette Company, more popularly known as the Puppet Theatre Barge, founded by Gren Middleton and Juliet Rogers, and moored at Little Venice, is further enhanced by the engaging production of The Hare And The Tortoise, and six other Aesop fables. The enormous repertoire of the company, now in its 34th year, features captivating marionettes and staging by Middleton and Roberts.
Although The Hare And The Tortoise tops the bill, The Lion And The Fox, The Spider And The Gnat, The Goat And The Fox and others are constantly absorbing, entertaining, and believable. Pleasingly narrated, with touches of wisdom, by Rudolph Walker, the puppets, wonderfully carved by producer, Gren Middleton, and manipulated with brilliant skill, humour and warmth, by Bea Pentney, Adrien Alexandre-Allin and Sian Kidd, held the audience aged 1-71 in their thrall. The pantomime-like responses from the younger members of the audience added to the pleasure of the moment. The puppeteers were aided and abetted by actors Louise Middleton and Robert Humphreys (who also directed) completing the entertaining vocal cast. Together they all brought personality and individuality to each puppet and their relationships with each other.
Of course, it’s the puppets that carry the show, and they stole the hearts of the audience young and old, the team of puppeteers charmingly, beautifully manipulating the physical life of the creature-cast. Tiny, twitchy mice, solid, reliable tortoise, funny, quirky fox, buzzing gnat and spectacular monkey on the flying trapeze, and many more were enchanting. A delightful score by Rory Allam and picturesque back cloths by David Welsh and LWTV contributed to a most enjoyable hour. Of course, they were blessed with the evergreen tales of Aesop that have come down the ages. Some, but (a little disappointingly) not all the fables carried a moral.
Little known is the life behind the scenes, where the puppeteers are trained by the company and live in tiny cabins on board during this training. Long may the next generations of puppeteers be born. Their characters await them.
Now that the weather is warming, the perfect outing can be had for all the family.