The classic tale of The Velveteen Rabbit is a favorite throughout the world. In this charming production Backhand Theatre bring to life the story of the sawdust stuffed rabbit’s quest to become real. The production encompasses the wonder and endless possibility of childhood and the genuine belief that the love and imagination of a boy can give life to the things around him.
The three person cast conceive an impressive array of characters through the use of accents and puppetry, though some of the changes were slightly too subtle and contributed to some character confusion. The puppetry varied greatly, from the larger rabbit puppets to the amusing Mr. and Mrs. Mole, who were created through sock puppets. Each with its own personality and presence on stage, the puppeteers took particular attention to endear themselves to the audience, creating characters who were literally larger than life in every aspect.
The performance was at its strongest when the cast of both people and puppets were interacting with the audience. Much to the delight of those attending, they were frequently invited to contribute their thoughts and shout answers. The interaction provided a level of friendly intimacy, drawing the audience into the story and the cast into the aisles. However, on occasion there were some sizable chunks devoid of the interaction that so well set off the rest of the show, causing some audience members to loose interest and squirm in their seats.
In a show, just as in childhood, there is a very blurry line between what is real and what is made up. What is make-believe and what is reality? The show’s aim of convincing the audience of the authenticity of their puppet characters echoes the challenge of the toy rabbit who wants to become real. The production proved its ability to bend theatrical reality throughout the show, even convincing the audience of the snow on stage. Some even climbed on stage at the end, just to check.