Brighton FringeChildrensCirqueFamilyRevueSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: The Biggest Marionette Circus in the World Part II – The Warren

Reviewer: Ruby Isla Cera Marle

Even before entering The Biggest Marionette Circus in the World Part IIyou are greeted by life-sized puppets of an elephant, a lion and a giraffe, an intricate and impressive sight that impresses both little people and adults alike.

The ringmaster of The Biggest Marionette Circus in the World Part II has been asleep for hundreds of years, so consequently two modern incarnations of Dr. Seuss’ Thing One and Thing Two wake him from his slumber using a giant key. At first, the ringmaster is a little dazed and confused and then slowly he remembers all of the many acts on the roster of his circus.

The first of these acts are the little animals, scaled down versions of the safari animals that the audience has passed just moments before, on their way into The Warren. Wide-eyed children look on as the puppeteers articulate the miniature animal trio in a skillful and lifelike manner. Another popular circus act that captivates many of the babes in arms are the brightly coloured flying fish, that swooped off the heads of the first few rows majestically, in touching distance of lots of little grappling hands.

The festival may be starting to take its toll on the ringmaster, as he sounds a little hoarse and it is often a struggle to hear his commentary over the music. There are, arguably, one too many quips for the parents ears only and turns of phrase such as ‘off the cuff’ are difficult and inaccessible to be included in a piece of children’s theatre. That said, he utters the mantra, that at The Biggest Marionette Circus in the World anything is possible, with the small animal puppets at the helm, the Ringmaster leads the joyous troops outside. After all, we are told everything that is little will one day grow up to be big.

Once outside the smallest among us are allowed beneath the roped barrier and to play with and interact with the miniature elephant, lion and giraffe for a short period of time, before being asked to return to their parents behind the barrier. Some of the children found it difficult to get their heads around why, one moment they were allowed to roam freely in the performance space, and then suddenly they weren’t. Needless to say, quite a few persistent little people that repeatedly toddled towards to the animals. Perhaps this confusion could have been avoided by waiting until the end of the performance to encourage the children to interact the puppets, rather than so early on in the production.

We discover that Emmanuelle the Giraffe has a melodic singing voice, Leonardo the Lion is quite naughty and, for some of the more sensitive souls among us, him threatening to eat the lion tamer proves to be a little too scary. Some loud roars and a few of the ringmasters asides, does make you question exactly which age group The Biggest Marionette Circus in the World Part II is aimed at.

That said, for many this will have been their first introduction to puppetry and marionettes on this scale and the closest most will get to seeing a circus featuring performing animals. For a child, whenasked what he wanted to be when he grew up, to proudly reply “an elephant”, this production has obviously made quite an impression. The Biggest Marionette Circus in the World Part II has a lot of promise and, with a few structural and linguistic tweaks, it has the potential to be utterly mesmerising.

Runs until 22 May 2016 | Image: Contributed


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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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