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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Shadow Kingdom

Mochinosha Puppet Company

Genre: Children's Theatre, Family, New Writing, Puppetry, Shadow Puppets

Venue: Assembly Roxy


Low Down

In a kingdom where it is always night, the Owl had declared himself king and made sleeping forbidden. Can he be stopped before our undreamt dreams destroy the world? The creators of the smash hit Space Hippo present an epic fantasy adventure for all ages. Four hundred shadow puppets are used to create a live animated movie.


Looking for something a little different? 

The Mochinosha Puppet Company distinguishes itself from the theatrical Fringe masses before their gorgeously inventive show Shadow Kingdom even begins. Company members Serai Yanai and Daniel Wishes don’t hand out flyers to entice Fringegoers; they hand out comic books, books that give an introduction of the world of the Shadow Kingdom without spoiling any of the live show’s great pleasures. 

Billed as a live animation movie, the daring nature of Shadow Kingdom continues when the show begins, as Yanai, director, puppet designer and performer, and Wishes, writer and performer, introduce themselves and encourage audience members to nap if needed. Say what? This sleep-deprived reviewer never needs that kind of prodding, but such is the creators’ rightful confidence in their work that such cheekiness is not only warranted but also thematically relevant to their un-soporific story.

And what a charmingly quirky and relatable tale it is. A young girl named Minerva is so glued to her phone that she’d rather stay awake late in the night engaging with her mobile than actually get any sleep. Ignoring her father’s insistence that she turn her phone off and get some rest, Minerva is invited and whisked off to the Shadow Kingdom, where she is quickly befriended and tricked by Owl into helping him take control of the realm. Like Minerva, Owl thinks sleep is a crazy waste of time and decides to outlaw it, causing, as would be expected in a land of no dozing, chaos. Minerva must then right the wrongs she has enabled, and it is through her adventures and obstacles that she learns lessons aplenty, including the idea that dreams must actually be dreamt lest pandemonium prevail.

With Shadow Kingdom Yanai and Wishes have created a compelling epic enjoyable for children and adults alike. Wishes’ sweet story is unpredictable and endlessly witty, with an abundance of memorable characters, including the unforgettable DJ Slug; Yanai’s puppets are a wonder to behold, magic made from shadows; and the joyful, hummable songs and playful score by Elliot Loran are top-notch. This is a gem of a show. But don’t just take my word for it. Of the three children I surveyed post-show, the reviews were unanimous, with one young man particularly chuffed: “It’s fantastic. I want to see it again.”  


Show Website