This show started beautifully and retained its magic right until the very end. It was an absolute joy to watch and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everything worked and worked remarkably. Certain Dark Things Theatre have triumphed with this performance, it glided through its hour long slot with such skilful movement that this highly complex piece could be filtered down to its audience with the simplicity of ease.

This show started beautifully and retained its magic right until the very end.

The story followed a character not too dissimilar to Pinocchio’s Geppetto - it was in no way derivative, although it had the same romance of the aged Disney character as he lovingly carves his creations in the intimate setting of his workshop. Tragedy struck early and hence the melancholy of the title, but there was a glimmer of hope throughout in the form of his puppet companion.

Stephen McCabe was an exceptional performer and though silent throughout, really portrayed the anguish and affection of the lonely craftsman. He is a great example of a physical performer and his restraint was perfect for the show.

What made this really special was the relationship between the maker and his puppet, and this was emphasised by the way in which the puppet was performed. When the two puppeteers emerged onto the stage they were visible, and not subtly so, but as the figure began to move and captivate her audience they soon disappeared into the background. These were skilled performers, the tiny figure emoted as if she was real and each step was perfectly animated.

The show was adorable, from the tiny detail of the puppet’s cloak to the overall narrative of hope though mourning a loss, and the choice of music was inspired. The songs, which included Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again and a heart wrenching version of Unchained Melody, were the perfect interjections and cut the silence of the scenes, as did a well-placed metronome which gave a comforting rhythm to the story.

The story itself spanned a considerable time but what was played out on stage was only the course of a few months; so, to provide the right context they projected an animation of events at intervals throughout. The style of these was charming and again backed by a great choice of music. It was a really clever way of layering the storytelling and it meant that a lot could be conveyed in a short space of time without disrupting the calm intimacy of the piece.

There were many elements that just made this show so magical and the title certainly didn’t reflect the feeling of the audience as we left. 

Reviews by Bethan Troakes

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The Blurb

Brighton Fringe award-winners Certain Dark Things return with a new show combining puppetry, physical theatre and animation to tell the story of one man as he treads the fine line between genius and insanity.