REVIEW – Plucked…A True Fairy Tale, manipulate

*****

England’s Invisible Thread give us a glimpse into a playful and at times disturbing world with Liz Walker’s Plucked…A True Fairy Tale, part of the manipulate Visual Theatre Festival at the Traverse.

Taking inspiration from myth and legend – most notably the maiden, mother, crone archetype – two almost life-size puppets interact in an abstract and expressive style, operated by three onstage puppeteers.

In the first section, male and female energies attract and intertwine, resulting in a trio of surreal births which emphasise themes of love and loss. With their spindly limbs and billowing white skirts, the puppets evoke a sense of otherworldiness and mystery: part childlike, part alien as they interact with the sparse set of wooden ladders and planks – and with each other.

Humour is present, mostly due to the surreal nature of the pair’s coupling and the subsequent offspring: from toy trains to television sets, each of which literally fly the parental nest. This gives rise to the thematic thread of the second half, where the lone female character is transformed into a terrible crow-like figure after undergoing a journey of self, seeing her reign from a mechanical tower from which she dispenses swift and terrifying vengeance on those who come to court.

Live ink painting projection and a music-box style soundtrack add to the dreamlike mood of the piece; and the sensory experience of Plucked as a whole overcomes the shortcomings in its often obtuse narrative.

Unique and challenging at times, Plucked is also perhaps a little over long – not helped by a necessary interval where the audience are asked to leave the auditorium to allow a scene change between acts.

As the images seep in and settle though, the haunting world of Plucked…A True Fairy Tale lingers in the mind like the echoes of a barely-remembered dream.

Plucked was performed as part of the manipulate Visual Theatre Festival at the Traverse Theatre on Jan 31.

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