Pros: A magical experience that will leave you in awe of the skill and mastery that goes into creating marionette theatre.
Cons: This is very much a family affair, which can cause some distractions. However, the children’s reaction to the work is beautiful.
I can hardly believe my only experience of puppetry has been The Lion King and War Horse. Had I known about the charm of The Puppet Barge, currently docked in Little Venice, I would have visited sooner. Movingstage’s unique floating venue is a pleasure; an example of the rich and diverse arts offering that our fabulous city has to offer.
Movingstage, established in 1979, is a leader in marionette theatre: there are no hand puppets here! Their work abounds with artistic integrity and skill. With 55 seats, The Puppet Theatre Barge has been open for over thirty years and during that time has hosted thousands of performances. Each year during the summer, the floating theatre makes a tour of the River Thames,wowing young and old audiences alike.
‘Dreamlike’ beautifully describes my experience when I went along to watch the company’s most recent work, The Flight of Babuscha Baboon. Created by Harry Marshall, this is poetic entertainment at its best and will leave you mesmerised and envious of the talent and exhilarating craftsmanship behind the work. Just one hour in length, with a short interval, the show is very much a family affair that takes place in one of the most intimate and quaint performance venues I have ever visited. The story follows Babuscha, a baboon who wants to fly to the moon … in a balloon. Along the way things take a twist and Babuscha faces a difficult decision. With an original sound track and poetry running throughout the show, not to mention some highly effective special effects, this work takes you on a highly emotive odyssey.
The beauty of this offering appeals to all ages on different levels. Certainly, when my nephew is old enough to visit me in London, The Puppet Theatre Barge will be our first port of call. Be warned though, if you’re not a fan of small children you will need to be prepared for their reactions to the magic that unfolds. Likewise, if you’re thinking of taking small children, the company specifies a minimum age limit of three years: babes in arms don’t work here. It’s also worth thinking of some strategies to manage their behaviour during the performance. The only downside to my visit was some of the poor parenting I witnessed, which at times distracted me and some children from the reverence of what was taking place on the dinky puppet stage.
This show is playing until 14 th May and is quickly followed by the company’s next work, The Hare and the Tortoise. Tickets are reasonably priced at £8.50 for children and £12.00 for adults. My advice is to make day of it. A summer’s walk along the Regent’s Canal and a picnic, followed by a piece of theatre you will remember for years to come.
Author: Harry Marshall
Producer: Movingstage Theatre
Box Office: 020 7249 6876
Booking Link: http://puppetbarge.com/booking/booking.php?pid=22
Booking Until: Sunday 14 th May