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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Taiwan Season: The Way Back

he Double Theatre

Genre: Children's Theatre, Physical Theatre, Puppetry

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

The touching, engaging tale of a shattered body trying to gather itself in a time of war. Using movement, text, light, sound and puppetry with great ingenuity, The Double Theatre’s family show is a creative and playful theatrical response to the state of the world now. Funny, heartfelt and poetic, their work has been compared to a flower blooming in a ruin. At the centre of it all is a displaced boy trying to become whole again, escaping the battlefield sustained by a dream of music. The result is devastatingly good entertainment. European premiere.


An interesting combination of visual and aural elements take us on a journey together. Five performers are ready to tell a story about a dismembered boy during wartime. The Right Hand is looking for the rest of its body and the boy sets out to find it, so he can become whole again, and a man.

While this story sounds sombre and it is about war, the story, which takes a light hearted approach most of the time can serve to open up discussions about the realities of acceptance and world events with young people. The performers do not speak and use physical acting with movement and puppetry deftly moving around the attractive set.

In a corner upstage a small table with model vehicles and other objects is used imaginatively by one of the performers moving them in tandem with the narrative. A voice over runs almost continuously narrating the story. The voice is warm and clear with well timed pauses. However, after the ensemble does several abstract movement sequences around the story, it seems that the voice over is not always needed and could be minimised somewhat. The freedom of expression from these creative ensemble moments also push forward the story in an imaginative non-verbal way to music very effectively.

The boy’s limbs are brought to life by object puppetry techniques and they each float around as the voice over dialogue speaks for them. Each limb is large and at the beginning it was confusing in the set up and introduction of the story with its focus on the abstract Right Hand – but after repetition it became clear. The puppeteers are in full sight, which is fascinating and there is humour and relief when the limbs come together and move as a whole body – or when the particularly well designed and articulated legs and feet move around.

The ensemble wear neutral coloured trousers and shirts and add minimal costumes such as hats to support the story effectively. A myriad of music choices are very well thought out and work well to complement the story, its mood and to engage the audience.

This is an abstract meaningful concept and much thought and detail has gone into the creation and performance. Some of the choices are quite sophisticated, with some jarring choices, too – and the scenes and events transition seamlessly with clever lighting and mise en scène.

A highlight is the dance of the limbs to grand rousing music! Then we are brought back to the battle field with the realities of war and the haunting sounds of bombs. At times the atmosphere of the story is playful and others it is less so with the loud bombs going off to an underscore of warm friendly music, which is curious.

This show is well crafted and performed about a meaningful topic that drives home the challenges during and after war time. It’s most successful moments are from the few brief and expressive ensemble movement sequences to music where the imagination can fly.