Alex in Shadow

Alex In Shadow from UCLU Runaground proves that puppetry is not just for children. Even adults can enjoy the strange adventure of pretentious and self-serving Alex (played by one male and three female actors), who wakes up in a mysterious woodland full of talking animals. This strange array of creatures, including a two-headed tortoise and a locust with a talk show, force Alex to confront the person they used to be and the person they have become. Though lacking in its conclusion, Alex In Shadow is a feel-good show full of clever puppetry and quirky humour.

This wonderfully ridiculous and absurd show is perfect for those seeking light-relief from some of the heavier drama at the festival.

The script to this show doesn’t run particularly deep. Alex’s opening monologue establishes them clearly as unpleasant and distasteful as they contemplates ‘the stagnation of human existence.’ Though the final of scene of the show implies that some kind of realisation has taken place in them, there is little by means of a conclusion to confirm that their journey has been of meaning. Without much to compare the introduction with, we end up with an incomplete character arc. Despite this, a wild and magical adventure is created, whereby we never quite know what is going to happen next, or who is going to turn up. Changing the actor who played Alex in every scene innovatively builds on the sense of delving into the unknown.

The real strengths of the show, however, lie in its staging. A live guitarist perched next to the action evokes an edgy and authentic feel to the piece, even before discordance and scratching enters into the music. The shadow puppetry used to create the fantasy world is absolutely intriguing. The puppets themselves are fragile and delicate, showing true skill and creativity from the group. There didn’t appear to be any clumsiness or errors during the performance, even with so much going on at once behind the white screens. Everything was choreographed to a tee.

This wonderfully ridiculous and absurd show is perfect for those seeking light-relief from some of the heavier drama at the festival. As a bit of fun, it really works.

Reviews by Carla van der Sluijs

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Alex is at an impasse in life, trying desperately to figure out the world and make their own path. They find themself transported to a strange and surreal world where the challenges and joys of a 21-year-olds life manifest themselves as fantastical monsters and creatures brought to life with a spectacle of shadows and immersive visuals. Alex is in constant pursuit of the elusive dragonfly, an unattainable and beautiful creature that they can never quite catch up with. A poignant coming-of-age tale with a twist, Alex struggles to find their way through their own head.