“Too scary?” asks Canadian puppeteer Jeff Achtem halfway through this magical follow-up to last year’s Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones.
Yes, there’s a certain darkness to some of the shadow puppets he brings to miraculous life – a savage sea monster, a ghostly snake – but his bumbling presence and the warmth of his storytelling ensure that even the smallest children won’t be frightened.
Last year’s offering drew its charm from Achtem’s ability to create elaborate shadow puppets from pieces of junk. He still prowls the stage for rubbish to use this time, but his puppets are more elaborate and far more expressive. His ability to inject so much life and vitality into his creations is nothing short of breathtaking.
The story he tells is simple, and its innocent, uncomplicated humour appeals to the child in all of us. The joy is in Achtem’s telling, though: at times he has the audience laughing like drains, and at others he brings a real pathos to his characters. He involves the audience in a gloriously low-tech shadow creation, and his spellbinding 3D finale simply has to be seen to be believed. Never seen a shadow in three dimensions? You will at this show.