On Saturday 21st October I went to see Yana and the Yeti by Pickled Image Theatre at the 1532 Performing Arts Centre in Bristol with my 5 year old daughter as part of the Tobacco Factory off-site season. I hadn’t had an opportunity to see the promotional literature so had no idea of the delightful and spellbinding puppetry treat that we were in for.
The story centres around Yana, a young girl who finds herself sent to a far away village in the snowy North. It’s not just the weather that gives her a frosty reception as she finds herself taunted by her class mates and soon finds herself lost in the forest after being left behind during a game of hide and seek. It’s here that she meets and befriends Yeti as the two of them play together and spend the night in the forest. But once Yeti is discovered by the Police who are looking for Yana the chase is on to get back to the village!
When puppetry is really good you soon forget that they are worked by deft hands and the three puppeteers in this Pickled Image piece are simply excellent. The puppets are very detailed and incredibly expressive and I was reminded of the animated Peter and the Wolf film as the characters slipped and skidded through the snow.
The staging was simple but very effective using a model village to give a great birds eye view of the action and also a few smaller table top sets for the larger puppets. There was also a great backdrop of mountainous terrain which was filmed on location in Norway which is where this play is set. The stand out parts of the show for myself and also my daughter were when the puppeteers changed into costumes and ‘became’ some of the characters and interacted with the audience, she found it hilarious that the Police offers would mistake her for Yana… “I’m much bigger!”.
The show runs for an hour without an interval and was just the right length and pace for my 5 year old to cope with. It’s on at the 1532 Performing Arts Centre in Bristol until Wednesday 25th October and I would highly recommend taking your little one over half term.
Review by David Blake