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Brighton Fringe 2013

The Girl With No Heart

Sparkle and Dark's Travelling Players

Genre: Puppetry

Venue: The Warren


Low Down

A very beautiful and rich performance, using puppetry, live music and traditional storytelling. A truly gorgeously evocate and attentive piece of theatre for both adults and children.


What happens to stories when the last page ends? What happens to the children surrounded by war? We all know about Hiroshima…”You’ve heard our story before…” But some stories need to be told again and again and again…

There are dark and impressionable images raised in this captivating show – life, love and loss are all simple themes explored in an unusual setting through the eyes of children. The story unsettled and confused the audience, creating a vivid world amidst a fog of mystery and led by well sculpted characters wading through the ash of destruction and finding hope in the forgotten stories of yesterday.

The imagery was eloquent as the girl moved through the story, dropping a piece at a time of her old life, her old self. Becoming part of this new world, facing thresholds, losing innocence but gaining connection. Losing carefreeness but gaining a sense of identity?

The set was superb and the live music gave the atmospheric quality this piece required. At some moments the music lost a sense of melodic and felt monotone and heavy, although this was in part a plot necessity. The puppets were beautiful, especially when seen straight on, Ike’s was the most evocative when sitting and crouching. The scene with the building bricks did not quite work and even my 8 year old commented on this and didn’t understand a few basic plotlines.

The shadow puppetry was perfect and encouraged the audience to step into this dreamlike world.  I admit to feeling a little disorientated at times, trying to work out what this strange world all meant – but then that’s not a bad thing. The ending was too sad for me and I felt it a bit harsh for children – it felt too bleak for my 8 year old and I felt a little cheated by it. It’s rare however to find a play with any depth that can speak to both children and adults meaningfully and I feel this did do that successfully – despite my personal preferences.

Ike’s voice was convincing and well held throughout and the girl’s performance was fresh and vigorous, maintaining a childlike innocence and energy. The work that has gone into this show is really felt and the originality and bravery of the writing, with obvious nods to Japanese influences is bold.

The emotions and painful aspects of growing up are well expressed. Is it better to live a long but dull life or taste adventure and risk everything? I thought about it today – watching my son climbing rocks and searching for crabs. I had this awful image, like I always do, of him slipping and falling and hitting his head and stifled a yell to call him back. What is life without tasting and touching and seeing what there is out there? What is life all cushioned and imprisoned in safety, without daring for love or connection or replying to a thirst for understanding? Equally what sense is there in selfish desire, when the world once coveted becomes a colourless landscape with whispered echoes of its sadly remembered beauty?