"A delightful afternoon for all"
by Margaret Morley for remotegoat on 02/11/12

Situated in Little Venice in West London, this puppet theatre is on a barge. First on is Captain Grimey. The show is set in an attractively decorated forum, with mainly puppets in magnificent costumes lining the walls. A chirpy excited atmosphere fills the barge before the show even started. This double bill is suitable for 3-8 year olds.

The Puppet Theatre Barge is currently celebrating 30 years and it is clear to see why. The excellently made marionettes, wearing quality costumes, using what looked like expensive materials and paying attention to detail, took to the stage for two thurty minute shows. The detailed movement of the rod puppets is particularly striking, as demonstrated by the skilled puppeteers. The show in addition to being entertaining is also educational with there being a moral to the story. Some fishermen laugh at Captain Grimey and a dolphin helps out. Also watch out for the Sea Monster.

Interest was maintained throughout, with a variety of scenes, which are short in length, which is suitable to aid concentration for children. Excellent mastery of characters was demonstrated in voice intonation, and the adaption for the theatre was also well written, with a lot of clear descriptions of both the situations and Captain Grimey included. It was not clear whether the spoken word was pre-recorded or live, but this adds to the believability of the puppets.

After a ten minute break the Fairy Tale of The Three Pigs and The Wolf took to the stage, again demonstrating excellent artistic direction. Unfortunately a flyer with the names of those responsible for the excellent standards of work was not immediately available. True to the tale, the Three Little Pigs build a house of straw, wood and then brick, then the wolf comes to blow the houses down. (The traditional stereotype of Wolfs was re-examined in the TV series, Living with the Wolfman (2008).)

See why the pigs aim to get up at 5am in the morning! Other animal characters are also included, which adds to the interest and excitement of the show. Great skill was shown with the timing of the characters. The wolf I thought is really the main star of the show, and even has gleaming eyes. With Fairy Tales, we often hear the phrase, "And they all lived happily ever after" one can see if this is the case.

The theatre may not be suitable for those who do not like enclosed spaces, as one has to go downstairs from the platform of the barge to arrive at the theatre, however there are clearly marked exits nearby to the seats. The theatre is cosy and the barge is surrounded by ducks on the waters. Adults sit at either ends of the rows, to allow the children to have a clear view and for safety reasons. Having seen this production, I would recommend seeing future productions from this very creative team, which also includes specially written music.

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