Thursday, 7 February 2013

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

Two Kneehigh productions at the same time in the one theatre? Oh, Bristol Old Vic, you are truly spoiling us.

While Steptoe & Son continues to preside over the main theatre, downstairs in the Studio Bristol audiences are indulged with a second helping from the Cornish theatre company, and this time it’s something completely different. As always with Kneehigh, you must expect the unexpected, and A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings delivers surprises by the bucket load.

Inspired by the work of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez, A Very Old Man… incorporates the theatricalities of Kneehigh with skilled puppetry from Little Angel to create a beautiful and majestic piece of inspired theatre.

Set in an unnamed small fishing town, we meet the inhabitants… who are miserable due to the crabs running riot all over the place, their stagnant lives and the child who is getting sicker and sicker. When out of nowhere, a strange creature flies over and lands in their midst… he is a very old man with enormous wings. And their world changes in an instant.

The crabs vanish, the child gets better… and many more miracles start to take place. So many that the townspeople become convinced that the sad creature they’re keeping cooped up in the chicken pen is in fact an angel.

What unfolds is a tale of morality, greed, desire for celebrity and fortune. As visitors flock from across the world to meet the ‘angel’ for themselves, the once humble townsfolk start to get ideas above their stations… and something needs to change.

A Very Old Man… is an utterly delightful show, performed by four extremely skilled puppeteers (Sarah Wright, Roger Lade, Avye Leventis and Rachel Leonard) who all blend seamlessly into the set design to control the enormous constitution of puppets that have been so carefully constructed. From a priest to a chicken, and a small boy to a cycling aide, all of the many puppets are created with such attention to detail and great charm. With music from Kneehigh regulars Ian Ross and Benji Bower added into the mix, this is truly a show to cherish.

Having never seen a full-length adult puppet show before, I am now a complete convert and will definitely be seeking out more.

For more information and to buy tickets (or to take advantage of one of the several Bristol Old Vic offers surrounding this show), please click here.

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