Gulliver's Travels

Familia de la Noche’s production of Gulliver’s Travels is an adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s satirical novel following several adventures of Lemuel Gulliver as he travels to the land of the tiny people on Lilliput, the giant people in Brobdingnag, the Castle in the Sky of Laputa and finally to the country of the Houyhnhnms. Starring a cast of three actors and several puppets, Gulliver is placed in a new setting two hundred years ahead of his time, from the year 1900 onwards, in an enjoyable and poignant take on the classic.

A sweet and stimulating show for families looking for a mix of silliness and seriousness.

The play begins with Elizabeth Gulliver entering her father’s old home to see about auctioning away his old possessions as he had recently passed away. Over the last ten years he had grown more detached from the world and consequently she in turn grew to be distant from him. Gulliver’s friend Mr Green goes through his inventory and begins recounting the adventures Gulliver had told him during their acquaintance to help reignite some interest from Gulliver’s disenfranchised daughter.

The set here is neatly designed and though lacking some projection the performances are good. From this point we are introduced to Gulliver who has been tied down by the tiny Lilliputians. Using a mix of costumed actors and puppetry, the visual results are wonderfully silly and fun. Creative set-piece after set-piece makes the first half of this production very enjoyable. The actors were in their element with the puppetry and funny scenarios in the story. It was great realising that Swift’s satirical elements were playing into the comedy such as the absurdities of etiquette and the strange tiny differences between people dividing them.

Much like the book, the play takes a darker turn and though there are still some funny moments in the second half, the tone becomes much more melancholic. The play loses its fluidity a little here though the story being told (diverging from the novel in terms of setting) is actually very interesting and imaginative. It begins to explore the emotions of the characters which, while not as fun as the puppet scenes, are appreciated for following the themes of the novel. The acting here is good, though a little quiet, lacking the enthusiasm of the earlier, funner scenes. While the scenes felt a little disjointed, the play never ceased to be interesting, especially with some interesting plot twists towards the end which explain Gulliver’s later disconnected behaviour.

Gulliver’s Travels is a fun, silly and bittersweet retelling of Swift’s classic. The performances are a joy, especially in the whackier moments, and the puppetry is well-directed and clever. A sweet and stimulating show for families looking for a mix of silliness and seriousness.

Reviews by Euan Brook

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The Blurb

Award-winning Familia de la Noche return with a magical voyage of exploration and adventure. Hurtling from the tiny towers of pompous Liliput to the looming giants of Brogdignag. But it doesn't stop there! Meet talking horses, mad scientists, necromancers and decrepit immortals with the secret of eternal life. But behind the adventures is a heart wrenching story that only Gulliver's daughter can tell. A darkly funny take on the Jonathan Swift classic from the company behind the award-winning The Very Grey Matter of Edward Blank and the five-star smash The Greatest Liar in all the World.

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