All He Fears

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"All He Fears"

All aboard Puppet Theatre Barge! Outside red and yellow awnings glowing, inside harmonious happy ambience resides. There's tea and coffee served from the hatch, portholes encase Richmond's River Thames, russet walls hang marionettes of all shapes and guises, lively instrumental music plays… Movingstage have inventively and compactly created a 50 seater theatre within their delightful barge. Botius, our protagonist puppet, perches, back turned, swaying a little, a breath has awakened his senses, as he looks out into an elemental backdrop. His beloved, Opina, walks away, ghostlike, enwrapped in smoke, taken from him, given to another, the moustached monsieur, with violin to serenade. We feel the professor of philosophy's pain from the onset. Commissioned and written by predominant English playwright Howard Barker, All He Fears is certainly more in harmony, or conflict, with an adult mind rather than a younger one. This is not a light piece. A marionette is an empty vessel in which we fill with our own thinking, reasoning, and intellectual and logical debate, as Botius with his life. The audience falls victim to the central character's solitary turmoil and downfall. The journey we are taken on is one of self-pitying chaos and disillusionment, yet great humour lifts it with ironic political debate. The pure majesty and skill executed by the puppeteers from the bridge above this tiny stage is magnificent and faultless. However I was not sure if the slightly loud pre-recorded voices of known actors such as Ian McDiarmid, Harriet Walter, Stephanie Fayerman and more, merged as naturalistically as I would have liked. Botius' incarceration, endurance, loss of brain, mind, sight, sans everything, is a beautifully deep penned poetic play. We discover there is no escape through deliverance, all hope is diminished. Some sequences at times feel a little stretched. A shift in the journey and thinking and outcome of the central character would have been more rewarding. I very much doubt this is what Howard Barker intended or wanted. Sept 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, 7:30pm, Richmond Oct 26-3 Nov, Little Venice, Suspense festival of adult puppetry http://suspensefestival.com/ Event Venues & Times Showing until 28/09/13 Puppet Theatre Barge - Richmond | Buccleuch Gardens, opposite 87 Petersham Road, Richmond, TW10 6UT