Children’s Puppet Festival
Part of the Little Angel Theatre‘s Children’s Puppetry Festival, Where the Water Falls is the debut piece of work by Ash Appadu, LAT’S puppetry design intern. You can read how it came about in our recent interview with them and Artistic Director Samantha Lane.
The play tells the story of a monster called Moss, who spends happy times with their friends, but can’t help feeling that they are not quite like them. Moss worries and wonders about their own identity and dreams of a journey to a waterfall that ultimately helps them understand their position in the world a little better
The show begins with a beautifully lit stage and delicately atmospheric music, suggesting a watery home. Puppeteers Jess Shead and Hector T.J. Huang introduce us to the multitude of characters in the tale of Moss’s dilemma, their journey and the people they meet on it. It’s a carefully textured production. The varied scenes flow around each other, marked with colourful lighting and interesting sound that keeps the young audience engaged, and there is beautiful musical accompaniment throughout by the talented Kitty Cameron.
Moss is an appealing and playful thing that peeks out from under the set, jumps joyfully across stepping stones and unfortunately has some issues with mess stuck to their feet – which the audience found most entertaining! They’re a very likeable character with delightfully fluid and lively movements. We encounter an interesting assortment of other puppets, some of which are simply objects and so demand a little imaginative investment from the audience, but they all come with fun personalities. Moss, however, feels that they are not like them.
The other puppets are designed to suggest the binaries in life that Moss finds troubling: light and heavy, smooth and spiky. The audience seemed to particularly enjoy the red and blue monsters whose sudden appearance causes a ‘jump out of your seat moment’ and much excited squealing.
For the most part the story is told non-verbally, through sounds and imagery, but there is some voiceover to explain parts of the tale. However, it was at times a little difficult to catch what was being said as the voice seemed to be filtered in some way, leaving it muffled.
The clever set design is flexible, with sections opening out to extend it. It also allows for some delightful shadow puppetry which brings Moss’s dreams to life. Later, a huge piece of fabric represents the waterfall, and billows beautifully across the stage, adding an interesting extra dimension to the performance space.
I have to say, I particularly enjoyed the music in this show, which really helped create atmosphere and communicate emotions. Cameron’s use of a variety of instruments includes keyboard, flute and a cheerful melodica, all perfectly paced to help the action flow along.
Moss’s world contains many binary elements, some friendly, some irritating, and they all add interest to their story. But the most visually impressive moments for this little puppet are when they find themselves solo centre stage, simply walking along in a relaxed manner, being themself. Ultimately Moss learns that they don’t need to be like any of the other characters, and becomes content with who they are. And that’s an excellent message for us all.
Created by: Ash Appadu
Produced by: Little Angel Theatre
Where the Water Falls is aimed at ages 5-11 and runs at the Little Angel Theatre until 12 August. Further information and bookings for the full festival can be found here.