A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings at Battersea Arts Centre
The seaside town in the Council Chamber at Battersea Arts Centre has been overrun by a plague of crabs. Scuttling and climbing, the scurrying decapods are our first introduction to the world of Gabriel García Márquez’s short story, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.
There’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek peeking from behind every corner in this touchingly humorous, ever-so-slightly politicised retelling of Márquez’s 1968 classic. This is a story that captures the imagination and stirs up a willingness to believe. The production (a Little Angel Theatre production in association with Kneehigh) takes full advantage, fitting it up with skilfully wrought works of magic. From the scrumptious, beautifully detailed, hand-carved cakes to the winged antiquarian himself, every detail is vivid and lovely.
Of course, the beauty doesn’t stop with the design and construction. The little hamlet’s denizens exist through the manipulation and acting of a skilled ensemble of puppeteers. The group is composed of Sarah Wright, Roger Lade, Avye Leventis and Rachel Leonard – a mix of Kneehigh and Little Angel performers. It’s a cooperation that runs through every aspect of the production team: the designer, Lyndie Wright, hales from Little Angel while Malcolm Rippeth has been designing lights for Kneehigh for a decade.
Many Londoners have their first puppetry experience at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington, the home of British puppetry for more than fifty years. Little Angel’s craft is infused with the magic intrinsic to tiny, imagined worlds. They tour their work nationally and internationally, as well as running workshops and puppetry training. Perched on cliff tops overlooking the sea in Cornwall, Kneehigh have been telling stories and creating their surreal realities since Mike Shepherd founded the company in 1980. The collaboration between Kneehigh and the Little Angel is a natural fit. The two companies complement one another in this lavishly lovely, slightly sardonic, sold-out gem of a production you’ll be lucky to have seen.
Watch the production trailer here: