by Liz and Daniel Lempen.
Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage N1 2DN 18 July 2015.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7226 1787.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 17 July.
Interesting ingredients could benefit from more narrative clarity.
In this piece North Yorkshire’s Lempen Puppet Theatre Company (run by a pair of Lempens, one from Switzerland, one from Herefordshire) bring to London a story combining traditional legend in the story of George and the Dragon with more modern literary myth in the story of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s novel about the scientist who seeks to create life.
For any 5+ young people who don’t have all that under their belt already, the piece may be strange but could trigger recognition when any of the story elements are encountered elsewhere.
The show is also presented as a rehearsal, owing to various disasters along the way. How much this means to the youngest is unclear (no-one seemed too bothered) and it leaves the question why Daniel Lempen was both pacing around worrying about the start-time and munching a sandwich beforehand: what’s the problem if it’s only a rehearsal?
One effect of the rehearsal idea is to stretch over an hour a piece that might be tidier at ten minutes less. Whenever the story is moving forward, often told in a kind of variable height Punch and Judy booth neatly incorporated into medieval castle walls, it works well. And the contrast between the medieval setting and the proto-scientific machine generating light and energy for the creation of George nicely brings two story traditions together: the fantasies of medieval Romance and early Sci-fi.
There’s fun with puppet George who needs to learn how to ride a horse, and some high-laugh-count chases involving a fairytale king and princess, plus a dragon who – adding modern sensibilities to other traditions – becomes a cuddly creature once George has removed the sword someone else planted in him – cause of all his rage – striking-up a friendship instead. Try telling them that in Jurassic World.
Attempted audience participation (asking for reactions to three degrees of dragon presence) needs more encouragement than can be given by a solo performer busy with his puppets, and adds nothing. Yet there are good things and an original approach to stories in this piece, which editing and more narrative clarity could increase in impact.
Performer: Daniel Lempen.
Director: Martin Bachmann.
Music: Loz Kaye.