1730 (1830) until 28th August @ Bedlam
By Emily P
In a Fringe full of young companies, showcasing student and graduate talents, there is necessarily a wide range of subject matters and design concepts. Some productions are full of ambition not always realised, some stick to safer ground and risk mediocrity; half of them seem to crow-bar in puppetry at some point. It is, therefore, a pleasant surprise for the fringe-weary reviewer to sit down to as pleasantly produced and as well-conceived a show as Flor De Muerto.
Four young actors present the story of one young man’s particular 2nd of November – The Mexican ‘Day of The Dead’. Having lost his parents when he was young, Gabriel has an understandable aversion to the festival’s celebrations and their inevitable acknowledgment of those who have passed from our world. Avoiding as much human contact as possible even from his friendly new neighbour he is more interested in living vicariously through his comics. But life will find a way to work its way in and Gabriel cannot hide from the dead for ever.
There is a real tender touch to the expressive puppet work in this piece. And the acting – especially from the two female actors – lends a charm to the sentimental telling of this sweet story. The staging, using coloured scarves as scenery and backdrop, is superbly effective, showing up some of the more complicated sets across the festival with its versatility and simplicity. By the time the fiesta starts, the bright colours and the fantastic music are able to transport the audience to Mexico despite the very British sound of the cast.
The weakest aspect of the production is the shadow work which has not been given the attention that the idea deserves. The shadow puppets have very little expression compared to the calavera manipulation seen in the rest of the play, being little more than a nod to both the theatre form and the Mexican art.