By Flossie Waite
A Unicorn Production
20 – 28th September 2014
Something Very Far Away may be a tale about looking into the past, but it’s an enchanting glimpse into the future of children’s theatre.
When astronomer Kepler loses his wife, he turns to the sky to bring her back. “The deeper into space we look, the further into the past we see”, and Kepler is willing to travel to the ends of the universe to glimpse her again.
Mark Arends and Matthew Robins have created a production that uses technology with real innovation and heart. Puppeteers work in front of video cameras to create the scenes that play out on a projected screen. Rather than detracting from the play, this mix of being both back- and front-of-stage – seeing that water in a sieve creates rain for instance – intensifies the creative wonder. It plays with the idea of travelling time – the audience is always vaguely aware of what is about to happen; preparations for the next shot are made whilst the previous scene is still playing out. Similarly, the mixed media approach draws from history – the animated backgrounds like cartoon pencil drawings from a world pre-Pixar, joined with simple puppets from a tradition that goes back centuries, seen through video cameras only possible within the past few decades. And the main difference between theatre and film is time – each performance of a play lasts for a few hours that can never be captured or repeated, whereas films bottle moments that can be seen again and again. Somehow, Something Very Far Away falls somewhere in the middle.
The play is short and the focus supposedly small – the life of one man relative to the huge expanse of space and time that surrounds all of us. But Something Very Far Away is filled up with imagination.
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