Mwathirika

Mwathirika is definitely an engrossing show. It is a puppet performance that looks at the consequences of war through the perspective of a child. The performance is presented by Papermoon Puppet Theatre who have travelled all the way from Indonesia to give the delighted audience the European premiere of Mwathirika.

Enough interesting puppetry on the stage to engage the audience and showcase how puppetry from Indonesia can be visually exciting.

The story follows two children and presents their reaction to the fact that a dark and intimidating militant power has taken over their village. The puppets are made out of wood, less than two feet tall, cute, curious and inquisitive. They are dextrous puppets, controlled by puppeteers who bring out the emotion and cautious nature of the characters. These characters like to play games, smile and are infused with joy. At times they are pensive, as they take time to reflect the tragic situation they are in. Unfortunately these sections of Mwathirika linger a bit too long and hold up the story’s progression.

What is strange about Mwathirika is the time the performance is scheduled to take place at the venue. A 10:10pm start time would suggest that it is filled with adult content and sinister themes. This however is not the case. For the first thirty minutes of the show the only conflict is when a manic dog barks loudly at the young protagonist. If Mwathirika was scheduled to start in the afternoon then a family audience could have enjoyed the puppetry and this seems like the target audience of the show. There is however enough interesting puppetry on the stage to engage the audience and showcase how puppetry from Indonesia can be visually exciting.

Reviews by Steven Fraser

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Mwathirika

★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Non-verbal puppet play about the lost history of a nation, created and performed by Papermoon Puppet Theatre, a contemporary puppetry theatre from Indonesia. Papermoon Puppet Theatre has transformed puppetry the way graphic novels changed the perception of comics: taking a popular form too often dismissed, and making it intellectually challenging, emotionally chilling, and visually bold. Think Maus, not Muppets. 'They are extraordinary!' (CenterStageUS.org) 'Mwathirika is a tender and touching tale of a dark time in Indonesia during the 1960s' (Straits Times).