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Moominland Midwinter (Bath)

Whilst the design and puppets mesmerise, Moominland Midwinter's narrative lets it down

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Moominland Midwinter - egg theatre. © Moomin Characters ™
© Nick Spratling

The Christmas production at The Egg Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath, this year is an adaptation of Tove Jansson's Moominland Midwinter, a safe, gentle tale of the adventures and challenges Moomintroll faces when he wakes early from hibernation. Whilst his parents sleep on, Moomintroll braves the outdoors and discovers a world which looks the same but things are very different, Too-Ticky (Morag Cross) lives in their summer house with her invisible shrews.

The real achievement of this piece is the design (Tom Rogers), which captures the scale, mystery and beauty of a snow filled world. It is equally well lit with great atmosphere by Katharine Williams.

The puppets are initially quite mesmerising created by Alison Duddle for Horse & Bamboo Theatre, their elegance and pop up book quality ensures moments of visual beauty; which make it on one level an extraordinary production. It is most effective when the puppeteer becomes "invisible" in their characterisation,

The bonfire and appearance of the Lady of the Cold are two images that will no doubt stay with a young theatregoer, alongside the wonderful fishing scene.

The narrative is weak, many of the challenges faced by Moomintroll are lost and his journey of learning seems diluted in this tale, the puppets are no doubt controlled very closely through the commercial sector and they are great creations. However, they seem a little limited in portraying the emotional scope of the storyline on offer.

- Petra Schofield