Edinburgh Fringe 2017
“The heart-warming tale of Ingo the dog and his journey of bravery, hope and finding courage where you thought you had none. A unique amalgamation of storytelling, puppetry and movement that combines historical truth with imaginative new writing.”
This is a delightful meaningful show about a dog that is nervous and shy, but happily living in London, when war breaks out. Suddenly his world is turned upside down and he is thrown into disarray. Ditto Theatre Company performs this story skillfully blending storytelling, puppetry and movement. Ingo is the dog in question, he’s humbly made of hessian with a brown paper mâché sculpted head. The six performers take turns narrating directly to the audience and manipulating Ingo. Three puppeteers are needed to make him come to life and they do this very effectively. The group is personable and they are skilled actors, storytellers and puppeteers: Polly Bycroft-Brown, Matthieu Clay, Sophie Hutton, Rob Hinwood, Rhea Locker-Marsh and Gemma Owen-Jones.
They devised this show together, the story, puppetry and staging. It’s extremely creative and well crafted as a show that will appeal to a broad audience of adults and children because it’s very entertaining and enlightening. The topic is based on how people -and dogs and pets – are expected to be brave when War is on the horizon. There are one or two serious moments in the play as well as themes of transition, friendship, hope, love and belonging, which are excellent opportunities to start conversations about history and humanity.
The set is simple but very effective and versatile – a few wooden crates become so many things! The talented ensemble is well organized and the transitions from scene to scene are seamless and imaginative. They also tell parts of the story with movement, which is creatively devised. My favourite is the one with airplanes flying over the country! But there are more movement and action sequences. There’s also a sea crossing, interspersed with other characters played by the ensemble, a ticket collector, a nurse, a little girl. These characters speak with different accents, too, so it’s a lovely opportunity to hear people from other places in the play.
The balance between puppetry and acting is equal and all of it well done. Costumes are simple but stylish and in tune with the story and it’s time – pale yellow shirts and dark grey trousers for the ensemble, and one or two colourful additions for the other characters they play, like a change of hat. The puppeteers bring Ingo, the modest sack cloth puppet (with a few strands of string hanging loose) sensitively to life creating several emotions ranging from happy, sad, frightened, distressed to just plain cute and lovable!
Ingo’s lifelike movement comes from the three puppeteers using a Bunraku puppet style, where one puppeteer works the back legs, the second works the front legs and the third brings the head and tail to life. The expressions the puppeteers draw out of Ingo are extraordinary and Ingo’s War will appeal to people of all ages.
This is a complete show, it touches so many ideas, based on true facts about history in an entertaining and poignant way. There is humour and pathos in this show, supported by a wonderful music score and sound effects. It’s well worth seeing!