From an article first published in Easdale People magazine, Issue No 19, Summer 2004.
Banyan Theatre Co: The Emperor's New Clothes
"He hasn't got any clothes!"
"He Hasn't Got Any Clothes!"
"HE HASN'T GOT ANY CLOTHES!"
Whispers turned to shouts then to jeers and laughter from the figer-pointing crowd as the naked figure moved his hand down to cover his shame and then, turning his bottom to the onlookers, he crept inside.
No, not a nightmare case of indecent exposure at the ferry shed but a moment of audience participation at the climax to the mesmerising puppet show 'The Emperor's New Clothes', performed by the Banyan Theatre Company.
A cunningly multi-functional set of ironing-board, washing lines and chair
was transformed by the sleight of hand and versatile voice of Karen Torley the puppeteer into the small-scale world of the emperor. A hanging cloth became a tower, the chair back the castle door. An iron tilted up above a shirt became a blues-singing prime minister, a hanger a dancing horse, a line of shirts people waving in the street at the emperor's birthday party. Thus the theme of clothes was worked into every dimension of the
Fingers and Thumbs, the rascally tailors, wonderfully detailed and expressive soft puppets, lent an air of pantomime to the occasion with their slapstick routines. Comedic and narrative value was added to their scenes and throughout by the excellent keyboard sounds of Rea Curran, in a style reminiscent of the silent movie, timing the tunes beautifully to enhance the action.
The children were able to meet the emperor, the star of the show, afterwards, who was as endearing undressed with a little wooden pot belly, as he was earlier in his exquisitely tiny clothes. Everyone wanted to take him home.
Karen and Rea had had no idea that they were going to be doing the gig on an island, travelling over on a ferry without their van, and had it rained might not have risked bringing their delicate stuff across. However they were pleasantly surprised at the facilities of the hall once they got there, and a high and appreciative turnout made it worth their while. A good venue and a cracking show. More please Geoff!
review: Hannah Bull