"Little Venice's Master of Puppets"
by Cameron Dunham for remotegoat on 18/01/15

The theatre barge of the Movingstage Theatre Company, moored at Little Venice, is an evocative performing space by any standards. Once you’ve negotiated the tow path of Robert Browning’s beloved Little Venice itself, the barge is delightfully converted and atmospherically decorated. Marionettes, presumably from previous shows, adorn the gorgeous, wood panelled walls and the tiered theatre space is deceptively Tardis-like in its ability to accommodate.

Their current production, “Red Riding Hood and the Wolf who tried to eat her”, is a pretty captivating take on the familiar fable. This being my first experience of professional puppet theatre, I was quickly impressed with the skill involved in imbuing the marionettes with distinct personalities. This was further enhanced by the voicing skills of the pre-recorded cast; I particularly liked Phillip Voss as the Wolf who delivers a master class in old school, British villainy.

There are some other notable features that make this a, sometimes macabre, piece of microcosmic escapism: firstly, Guy Denning’s score is excellently varied but always enhances the mood of the drama; secondly, some of the special effects are simple but so effective: dry ice on a miniscule stage must be a directorial challenge but it was delivered with aplomb; thirdly, I really enjoyed the insidious cloud of puppeteered bats: very creepy! Deborah Jones also warrants a special mention for her thoughtful scripting of such a well known tale.

As far as theatre experiences go, this is about as far away from the generic as you can get. Comprising of two, short acts and a brief intermission, the show is obviously tailored for parents with children, but there’s enough here to give curious adults a uniquely entertaining encounter. Whilst some of the show might be a little frightening for pre-schoolers, children older than this will have a ball. And come to think of it, so will their parents.

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