by Widdershins.

Little Angel Theatre 24 Dagmar Passage N1 2DN To 26 July
11am & 2pm.
All Ages Performance: Sun 11am.
TICKETS: 020 7226 1787.

then Quarry Theatre 26 St Peter’s Street MK40 2NN
28 July 3pm.
TICKETS: 01234 362269.

then The Scottish Storytelling Centre 43-45 High Street EH1 1SR 4-30 Aug 2015.
Relaxed Performances 12, 28 Aug.
TICKETS: 0131 556 9579.

Runs 1hr No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 July.

A trio of gentle, individually flavoured stories.
Widdershins’ show is bread and butter puppet theatre. Good quality bread, not cheap plastic stuff. Using small, likeable and skilfully made puppets it takes a dog and a couple of grannies through a three course meal, advertised on a board by the stage’s side. There’s porridge, for starters, a middle course of stone soup and, for dessert, a gingerbread man.

Kitted-out as a chef, performer Andy Lawrence starts by hymning the delights of porridge, apparently a particular favourite with those on stage, himself and dog Podge (short for ‘Porridge’). Behind each course lies a story, also involving a couple of grannies, while the three-course meal creates a strong three-part structure.

Widdershins’ show works by taking familiar ingredients and flavouring them to taste. The titular pot produces lovely porridge but when left under Podge’s control granny’s absence it continues doing so unstoppably, with a hint of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Gentle and unthreatening, with a sympathetic manner, it’s well-aimed at its 3-8 audience. It might not take on larger themes behind traditional stories in the way of Lempen Puppet Theatre (last week at the Little Angel), but that’s not a necessity in every show.

What is necessary is that the piece respects its audience, in its skill, pace and vocabulary – something Widdershins does well, from the indispensible porridge through the unlikely-sourced soup to the delicious dessert of an unavoidably appealing Gingerbread figure come to life.

The main appeal, naturally, is in the visual elements, the kitchen set-up with its stove and menu board. And that merges with narrative interest as Widdershins’ puppets enact their stories. Perhaps it’s a pity it ends (or did in Islington) with quite such a marketing bid, an invitation to young audience members to look more closely at the puppets combining with a list of show and company-related items on sale. Parental purses are hit at a vulnerable moment of childhood delight.

Of course, some way has to be found of paying to put food on the table. But it would be good if the selling-point – the show – weren’t quite so closely tied to the sales-point.

Performer: Andy Lawrence.

2015-07-24 10:48:42

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