Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • PERÔ • Speertheater at The Unicorn Theatre • 2008

The foyer of the Unicorn Theatre, with its famous unicorn, decorated with some of Speeltheater's puppets. Photo: © Sarah Vernon

The foyer of the Unicorn Theatre, with its famous unicorn, decorated with some of Speeltheater’s puppets.
Photo: © Sarah Vernon

Dutch theatre company Speeltheater have arrived at The Unicorn Theatre bearing puppets, music and moonshine. Guus Ponsioen’s adaptation of French author Michel Tournier’s children’s book Pierrot ou les secrets de la nuit has been around since 1994, touring widely and garnering awards. Taking the ancient story of Pierrot, Columbine and Harlequin and fashioning an exquisite puppet show with unusually sophisticated lyrics and music, also by Guus Ponsioen, Perô well deserves its longevity.

Perô the baker is in love with Colombina, his neighbour, but cannot declare himself because he works at night.Perô , like his forebear Pierrot, is a moonstruck romantic. But Colombina, a flirty laundress, works in the day and is a daughter of the sun. The Sun (a haughty Annemarie Maas, possessed of a truly lovely singing voice) perches at a high piano on one side of the stage and the Moon (Guus Ponsioen, dreamier and more fragile) perches at the other side, each vying for their own acolyte. Rollicking piano, breakneck lyrics and a soaring saxophone produce a distinctively European sound, with the gusto and oompah-pah of circus music pierced by lonely echoes of Kurt Weill. One wonderful song is composed almost entirely of types of bread, but sung with such hurtling speed that it was not always easy to decipher every Dutch-accented word.

Visually, this is also a treat. Designers Onny Huisink (also the director) and Vincent Sturkenboom have used a palette of black, white and grey, like a children’s book read by the light of the moon. It is only with the arrival of Perô’s rival in love, housepainter Palentino (Harlequin), that colour appears – reds and blues daubed with abandon, heralding trouble. Perô and Colombina inhabit two tall white houses – and any child who loves dolls houses will adore this – the puppets actually enter and go about their respective businesses. Perô has a bread oven and a chimney that smokes and Colombina operates a washing machine.

One of the interesting aspects of a puppet show is always the relationship between puppeteer and puppet. Sometimes the puppeteer is no more than an invisible presence, totally in thrall to his/her puppet. Sometimes there is a power struggle going on between the two, the puppet a latent force ever ready to take over the puppeteer. Sometimes they are locked, happily or not, into an eternal conversation.

Speeltheater have created something very different, whereby the puppets themselves have no awareness of their manipulators, and therefore show none of the sassiness and delinquency we have come to expect. It is the puppeteers whose role has been extended; not only do Inez de Brujin (Colombina) and Timmy Velraeds (Perô) manipulate their charges with parental tenderness, they share the same characters. The skittish, vivacious de Brujin and the gentle Velraeds conduct their own courtship throughout the play and the final, consummating dance of joy at the end thus extends out of the tall white houses and on to the forefront of the stage. It is a liberating idea.

I enjoyed Perô enormously and the audience of young schoolchildren – ages varying from around 6 to 9, I would guess – were enthralled. The late arrival of one school left the teacher of a young class talking loudly to her pupils. Had any of them been to the theatre before, she enquired. Only four of them put up their hands. Lucky kids to have this distinctive show as their first experience of theatre: romantic, wistful, and elegantly European. What a contrast to the brash formulas of a Disney Channel world.

Claire Ingrams © 2008

Originally published on R&V 28-09-08

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The poor side of life

EXPOSING CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.EXPOSING THE GOVERNMENTS WAR AGAINST THE POOR.FIGHTING FOR BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. SANCTIONS KILL.

For the Love of Art

Create, Explore, and Discover, Every Day.

Politics and Insights

Public interest issues, policy, equality, human rights, social science

IWtheatre

Supporting the rich amateur theatre scene on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography - Blog

Images and stories of nature, science and conservation.

Sarah Ditum

Writing, etc.

The Müscleheaded Blog

"Nothing Exceeds Like Superfluous Jejunity "

Jots from a Small Apt.

Largely @ Liberty

Rethinking Life

Art and the philosophy of life

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Ina Vukic - Croatia: people, politics, history, economy, transition from communism to democracy

lynz real cooking

lynz real life

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

barneyhoskyns.com

The home of writer Barney Hoskyns' books, poems, photos and more.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Left Handed Lottie

Drawing and painting on an ipad

Atelier 88

More than just rooms

The Sleeping Hare

Art by Lottie Nevin

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

beetleypete

The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Vegan Books For Children

books from Little Chicken, Honestly Books and Violet's Vegan Comics

Catherine Meyrick

Historical Fiction with a touch of Romance

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

My Life as an Artist (2)

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Violet's Vegan Comics

Virtual Vegan Comics for Children

Two Rooms Plus Utilities

Written from the heart, this is the unadulterated truth of live with multiple chronic illnesses and being housebound. My life open for you to follow. Please join me

kickingthecat

How current policy is little more than kicking the cat....

Matt's History Blog

Hopefully interesting snippets and thoughts

David Hencke

Westminster and Whitehall news investigations

Notes from the U.K.

Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.

BRIDGET WHELAN writer

August is archive month. Posts from the past

P.A. Moed

Creative Exploration in Words and Pictures

creartfuldodger

collage/mixed media artist

My Dad Is A Goldfish

Caring for a demented dad

Scope's Blog

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we'll be here.

Art Farm of a Country Woman

Painting My World with My Heart

e-Tinkerbell

Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

AT A GENTLE PACE - Bridget Whelan's lifestyle travel blog

for people who would try anything except whitewater rafting (probably)

reviewdonkey

My personal opinions about.......stuff (as if you care!)

A Teacher's Reflections

Thirty Years of Wonder

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

Celebrating 98 years on Broadway!

Pen and Pension

Immerse yourself in Georgian and Regency England

Scleroderma Guy

It's Not A Life Sentence. It's A Life. Sentence

%d bloggers like this: