With the feel of an interactive workshop rather than a theatrical ‘show’,
The Castle Builder’s purpose is to extol such creators and celebrate the creative impulse that connects them to humans across history
Vic Llewellyn - after kicking off proceedings by axing a chair to bits - takes a master-of-ceremonies role, showing us slides of eccentric building projects - houses lined with porcelain, buildings built from bottles, amateur palace constructions, that kind of thing. The Castle Builder’s purpose is to extol such creators and celebrate the creative impulse that connects them to humans across history.
He is ably assisted by Kid Carpet (AKA Ed Patrick), whose DIY musical aesthetic will already be familiar to some audiences. At their best, Patrick’s songs have satisfying rhymes that spring in slightly off-kilter directions. At other times, though, ideas seem too willfully underplayed in style and substance.
The Castle Builder has some nice gimmicks and several inventive set-pieces. One song, for example, is lit by the torches on the audience’s phones. Other set-pieces have some wildly eccentric costuming that gives shape to the pair’s stated belief in creativity for its own sake. It is all very likeable; but never quite manages to lift off into anything more. In most segments, Llewellyn shows us something cool and the pair give that topic some kind of creative treatment, without adding any spark of ‘newness’ in form or perspective.
A good example of this is the “maker” who sits at a special “maker’s table”. Over the hour of each day’s show, a different creator makes a unique item exclusive to the performance. Our show’s maker was Jude Munden, who crafted two exquisite wooden puppets of Patrick and Llewellyn from the shards of the chair Llewellyn axed at the start. These were remarkable creations for fifty-minutes work and it was fascinating to glance across at Munden as she crafted; but The Castle Builder’s format did not know what to do with them once they were made.
Llewellyn quotes Robert Vasseur during the show, who, when asked the significance of a butterfly he had fashioned from broken crockery, said it had “none whatsoever”, Vasseur just liked making them. Such, fundamentally, is the whim of The Castle Builder too.