Sally Bavage writes:
Son et lumière in a tent erected in the HEART Centre, HeadingleySpeechless! Not just the mixed audience of adults and young children but the show itself. A puppet show like no other, Mimika Theatre is a locally-based group that takes its audience on a worldwide trip from the desert to the rainforest to the South Pole. Not bad in an hour. The welcoming reassurance of Bill and Jenny, who have crafted a fabulous set of animals to accompany us on our travels, created a rising sense of anticipation before we set off - into the tent with mood music and lighting to help young and old alike suspend disbelief. And this was after showing the younger members of the audience the scary snake fashioned from a vacuum cleaner hose and the snapping crocodile model head to allay any fears.
We set off to the desert to see a baby bird hatch, menaced by a swooping raptor over the audience. Looking up with rapt faces, open mouths, the children – and the adults – were completely absorbed. Laughter at the antics of the meerkats, alarm at the scorpion, edgy absorption in the creatures that slithered, bit and met their fate before us.
‘Caws’ and effect – the scene and the soundtrack gave way to bird calls amongst the reflections from a tropical rainforest. How delightful to see children interested in tweeting, not Tweeting. We listened to howls and growls, buzzing and snarling, with music and monkey business helping to create the story in each of our heads.
We then dived underwater to observe anemones wave and fish twirl to a Japanese-style soundtrack that bubbled along. A jellyfish swam by and clownfish came out to play over our heads, along with seahorses, sea snakes and a turtle. The audience was completely immersed itself in this watery world.
Within thirty seconds the scene iced up, snow was falling and we were watching as a penguin hatched its tiny baby from a carefully nestled egg, to oohs and aahs of sympathy and delight. There was then a seal of approval for the audience from the watching mammal which popped up. The End was nigh, but not quite yet.
Next came a puppet show – and tell. Bill and Jenny allowed the audience members to choose their favourite puppets and showed how they are made and work. Lollipops and marbles, colanders and string have never looked so inventive, even on Blue Peter. Especially the meerkats – simples!
Entitled ‘Spellbound in a tent’ - it WAS magic! Young people watching and enjoying an older form of artistic entertainment, taken on a journey before and behind their eyes.
I wonder how many of them will be thinking up stories about the puppets and their journeys over the coming days?
After the performance, members of the audience were invited to write down their thoughts on the LitFest's assessment forms.