I don’t know about the kids but I’ve been looking forward to this play for months. P loves Michael Morpurgo but I must admit none of us have read the book just yet – it’s on the pile and it’s just moved further up to the top.
I was desperate to see this because the puppets were likened to the remarkable War Horse I’d heard all about in the West End. Since I love children’s books, puppets and the Lyceum I had to get tickets.
The story is a moving one. A girl and her mum visit Indonesia in Sri Lanka and are on the beach when the Tsunami hits. It’s a tale of adversity, bravery, and the love between a young girl and an elephant.
The puppeteers are introduced right from the very start – clapping their chests to sound like birds – which is a beautiful touch since they really are at the heart of the production. The elephant took five actors to manoeuvre in a fantastically realistic way, her trunk investigating people, animals and tall tattered umbrella trees. I couldn’t get over her ears that moved in such a natural way I wanted to run down and touch them. Then there were the orangutans including gorgeous playful babies, so lifelike you really believed they were hanging from the branches. A tiger even stalks ominously about the stage in an angular powerful way. Quite breathtaking.
I think it’s fair to say we were in awe. The story is great and the acting excellent, but everyone would have to say the puppets (and their actors) are the stars.
What I wasn’t really expecting was the play to be so emotional. There are genuinely frightening characters in the heart of the jungle and you fear for the lives of the Lilly and her animal friends. The toughest part is the strong theme of deforestation and animal captivity. We left as a family talking about how we can make a difference, by not using products including palm oil and focusing our energies on the environment in our own small way. This play has jolted us into action .
If you get the chance to see this I’d highly recommend it. I have never seen puppets so lifelike and beautiful, or been moved so much at a children’s show. Fantastic.