Fringe UK-wide

Arthur's Dream Boat

Genre: Children's Theatre

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Venue:  Komedia Brighton

Low Down

Another fine entry from theLong Nose Puppets, Arthur has a dream, but who will listen to it? Polly Dunbar's lovely tale rendered in puppetry by an ever impressive company.


The Long Nose Puppets have impressed FringeReview for years with their bold simplicity, beautiful puppets and puppetry, command of narrative and mastery of silence and the moment.
This show over the Christmas period at the Komedia is the latest addition from the company that brought us Penguin and Flyaway Katie.
A more traditional puppetry box graces the downstairs stage and, intriguingly, we are all on the same level as the performance for this show aimed at two to seven year olds. There are plenty of visual surprises in store and the usual, gentle story to hold the attention.
The Long Nose Puppets stand out because they have the courage to focus on simple flow and a narrative that easily meets and takes warm hold of the curiously of the child and their natural hunger for story. Simplicity and the recognition that children under eight don't need to be addressed as young budding adults create a stellar show that reminds us this simplicity is nourishing and always more powerful than unnecessary cleverness and elaboration for its own sake.
With plenty of space for the children to sit on cushions at the front, I felt the box shape of the seating didn't serve the performance and a more soft,  semi round would have been better.
Ladies and Jellyfish, boys and girls, welcome ! Arthur has a dream that is growing... The story unfolds, interspersed with catchy songs that draw on a modern feel and the combination of sound, music, word and action create a visual and narrative feast that keeps the children fully engaged throughout.  Each new scene reveals something new, often a visual spectacle in the form of a new puppet.
Occasionally the music isn't powerful enough to gain full audience participation  and perhaps this is the weakness of recorded music and sound and a lack of authentic, live interaction. Without that live interaction, moments of participation need to be very clearly defined and delineated and this worked well in "Hey, I had a dream last night" (memorable song and clear moment of audience involvement) but worked less well in the mother's song which failed to light up the children and the muted response was a result. I think it's the quality, placement and consistency of this audience interaction and involvement which needs clarifying and finessing to make the show truly outstanding.
A story about listening and the importance of our dreams, the Long Nose Puppets have delivered again on all the right basics and added their own strong creative pulse and originality to the proceedings. The puppets are visually enjoyable and accessible, the characterisations well constructed and delivered vocally and physically. The comedy of the dog also works a treat. And there's a lush colourscape to the whole enterprise, achieved through light, set and rich fabric.
Overall a thoroughly recommended treat for children.Our eight year old loved it. And so did a certain forty-six year old as well.

Reviewed by Paul Levy 6th January 2013

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