On Sunday 11th January, we braved the blustery weather on the prom at Weston-super-Mare to head down to our favourite new theatre space at The Bay. I’ve seen the Pickled Image theatre company before at The Brewery Theatre in Bristol, and we were excited that they were coming to our home town with their latest show ‘Fireside Tales With Granddad’. Pickled Image specialise in puppetry and live performance for theatre, and they are very good at what they do.
Word has obviously got round in Weston-super-Mare what a great new venue we have had in the pop up theatre at The Bay, as the auditorium was the busiest I have seen it yet during this season of theatre. It just shows there is an audience in Weston and we are all really hopeful this continues after the season finishes at the end of the month.
In Fireside Tales With Granddad, we are invited round the campfire to hear tales of greedy goblins, grumpy trolls, sneaky princes, a giant pair of underpants and a daring escape from a hungry shark. The puppets are so lifelike and beautifully crafted that you quickly forget they are being manipulated by the company members draped in black behind them. Yes, Granddad is so lifelike that initially my 3 year old was rather nervous of him! (The age recommendation was 5+ for this show; some of the more detailed sections were a little lost on her, but she was able to engage with the audience participation and she was fascinated by the deep sea monster puppet. “Look Mummy! A swimmy dinosaur!) My 6 year old loved it though. She predictably giggled at the giant underpants, was wowed by the beautiful shadow puppetry and was yelling out suggestions for character names or calling to grumpy trolls just as loudly as the rest of the audience when the show called for it. The young audience was obviously engaged, as they were loud, enthusiastic and you could tell they were enjoying it. There were one or two points in the show where the dialogue was a little difficult to hear, and the shadow puppetry scene with the princess and the troll in the woods was †hard to see at the back of the audience where we were sat. My daughter kneeled up on her seat at this point to see better which was fine as there was nobody behind her, but perhaps for larger venues the projection could have done with being bigger and easier to see?
Overall, we really enjoyed the show, and I was glad it was so well attended and well received. Please can we have more theatre in this venue? Pretty please?
Review by Karen Blake