Devised by: Ditto Theatre Company
Reviewer: Paul Couch
There seems to be a flurry of shows featuring intricate puppets alongside the human actors in recent years, the most famous surely being War Horse, which started life as a novel before being re-imagined for the National Theatre stage and subsequent national and international tours before hitting the big screen in the Spielberg blockbuster.
While modest little Ingo’s War is clearly inspired by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott’s much grander work, it’s a stunning example of what outstanding young talent this country’s drama schools can produce. It’s charming and wholly captivating.
The Ingo in question is a life-sized dog of undetermined breed, found on a rubbish dump in England just before the outbreak of the Second World War. He’s adopted by a girl and taken home. However, through a series of unfortunate events, Ingo finds himself in Nazi-occupied France being cared for by another girl and her grandfather.
It’s a short piece in which to cram in such an adventure but one that’s just right for younger attention spans. Where Ditto Theatre goes with this or shows for older audiences remains to be seen.
The cast, Polly Bycroft-Brown, Mathieu Clay, Sophie Hatton, Rob Hinwood, Rhea Locker-Marsh, Gemma Owen-Jones, are all graduates of East 15 and each has the opportunity to wrangle the puppet Ingo throughout the show, as well as portray – with some conviction – the human characters. As is often the case, we filter out the human operators of these lifelike mannequins after a while and the quasi-creatures take on lives of their own.
The performances are solid and confident and what strikes the viewer is just how beautiful Ditto Theatre Company’s choreography is, working seamlessly with the more naturalistic scenes to create an engaging and often heart-breaking storyline. Perfect fare for aspiring theatre-makers to learn from and aspire to.
Ingo’s War may not have the big budget of War Horse, but it has heart and ingenuity that must surely lead to even greater things for Ditto Theatre.
Reviewed on 27 Mat 2017 at The Warren: Studio 2
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