As we enter the Propellor Stage I am overwhelmed by the audience. I have never seen a BATS show so filled with children, and I love it.
The stage is set elegantly and simply. The two book flats on either side serve many purposes; to hide the expertly placed side-lights, to frame the action, and to be used a beautiful piece of scenery. The paper texture of their windows is especially captivating.
The music begins, and follows the action throughout the performance in a magical way. It is melancholic, emotive, and sets the tone perfectly. It fills the theatre with mood and enchantment, without ever distracting from the words of the performers.
Duck, Death and the Tulip is performed by two puppeteers. Their liveliness and dance-like movements make an almost flawless performance. Duck’s movements are perfectly duck-like and his beak is brilliant (I love the noise it makes upon opening and closing and tapping parts of the set). Duck’s movements are the only thing to signify the pond at the top of the show, and he does this by shaking himself dry in a believable manner. His snoring is also special, as it causes us to laugh while admiring at the gentleness as he drifts off to the land of nod.
The transitions where the puppeteers exchange puppets are smooth and well-rehearsed. This is especially noticeable when Death transforms from a man into a puppet as he jumps into the pond. The pond itself is amazing in it’s simplicity - a hole in the stage where bubbles magically float out of.
One aspect that I love about puppetry is that every object can be personified. This is done immaculately with Death’s suitcases, as they dance and perform for us. The butterfly is another brilliant moment, as it’s tails fly out behind it.
As the day becomes night the lights fade to blue, and a glowing moon sails across the sky. This is a captivating and enlightening moment of inaction.
At times the rhythm of the performance was slow, but this is not necessarily a negative as this contributed to the peaceful nature of the performance. The tone was relatively serious, but not overwhelmingly slow, and the young audience seemed engaged throughout. The performers neglected to respond to the various high-pitched shouts of “What’s that?”, “Hi!”, and “Look behind you!”; but I wonder if this was to keep the show’s tone and plot on track.
This production truly shone with it’s design. Everything about it was slick and elegant. The lights did a marvellous job of hiding the puppeteers while lighting the puppets; and the stage gave plenty of space for movement. The sound accompanying the performers was perfect; melancholic without being sad, uplifting without being happy.
I was not able to attend the performance with a child, and I truly regret this. I cannot speak for how it was received by the younger members of the audience, but as an adult I was delighted throughout.