Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Backhand impress with an accessible, well told choice of myths, emplying puppetry, storytelling and physical theatre.
From the very start the music and lighting creates a storytelling atmosphere in Backhand’s engaging production. The performers address us directly setting the scene for the myths. I saw their other show "The Velveteen Rabbit" and here we also have a love of telling a story in an accessible manner, told warmly, connecting with the audience. The key elements of the tales are well selected and told and combined well with visuals such as puppetry and physical movement.
We begin with Theseus and the Minotaur and we’re quickly into the story. The puppetry is simple and holds the children’s interest. Over-fussy puppetry can ruin childen’s theatre and here we have an economy of movement and care in puppetry work that results in the children leaning forward with interest to engage with the myths as they unfold.
The narrative style is sometimes a bit too fast and the stories are, in places, too wordy, which is a shame because these performers are competent physical performers and there’s scope here for less words and even more movement-based story telling.
Set is created through the spoken word and some clever use of miming, not just by the actors, but also the puppets. That’s a nice feature in the show.
The myths are all well crafted as stories and there’s enough audience participation without interrupting the story flow too much. But that involvement would be better placed between the myths and not just during them. We rushed into the second story without a moment to digest the first.
The performers deliver the stories with skill and panache, as well as loving care and respect for them, and successfully capture the magic of the originals. We are all taken back into the world of myths and legends. They create some effective ensemble theatre work in the process. For example they create Medusa from a combined form of three people. It’s a lovely bit of inventiveness.
So, plenty to enjoy here, and a bit of learning from Greek myths along thwa y. Strongly recommended.