Browse reviews

Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes 2023

Low Down

It is the moment when darkness sets in. Night watches. So that buried dreams can quietly poke their heads in. Objects, ideas, animals, words, even songs. Attached to the passing of time, to the reinforcement of the links that unit sis, to the nature that surrounds us, Nuit takes her cabinet of curiosities on a journey to a tiny land, a miniature epic in the land of small things. To have fun.


Written and directed by Céline Schnepf and performed by Natalia Wolkowinski, Compagnie Un château en Espagne presents Merveilles at this year’s Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes at Charleville-Mézières, France.

The very attractive compact round set of this piece is immediately impactful. Leaves cover the small space and tiny trees surround the edges. A tall lamp is to one side and our storyteller appears. She starts to talk to us in a low tone that is well articulated, has enough volume and is spare in text. For this story is about the natural wonders of nature and its animals and geared towards the young. 

The seating area is organized in a semi circle with swathes of comfy dark brown fabric to sit on at the front for the very youngest with several benches for the adults. The storyteller relates to the entire audience with empathy immediately, she is very compelling to watch and to listen to as she tells us about the wolf, it’s relatives and other animals from temperate climates. At each first mention of an animal, she takes out a figurine of that animal and shows us carefully then places is somewhere in the circle.

Sometimes there is no speaking needed and Wolkowinski does some interesting movement and dances to the beautiful eclectic score which runs from classical to contemporary and beyond. One thing that is immediately apparent is that this story and the thirty-minute show appeals to the adults in the audience just as much to the very young. About one third of the audience at the show I attended were families but the vast majority were adults without children. I looked around at one point and saw that the adults were rapt in the storyteller’s spell.

This show is artistic as well as beguilingly educational and transports the audience far away. It is wonderful way to spend half an hour and even more so if it introduces the very young to imaginative and meaningful stories and theatre.

The storyteller sang a little song, did several short movement pieces and interacted gently with the audience, all from her small stage. Wolkowinski is completely invested in the storytelling and creating special moments for the audience – all deftly and so creatively led by Schnepf.

The result is an utterly charming piece of theatrical storytelling that appeals to all ages!