One imagines that the members of the Principio Attivo Teatro are absolutely lethal at charades. This 55 minute piece is almost entirely wordless. A Man and His Shadow is slightly absurd mime theatre which takes place in a world where a man can fall in love with a balloon and do battle with his own shadow. Gradually increasing pace, building up the setting of the story (literally building them up: The Man lays out the dimensions for his own house) we get down to the really slapstick like humour. Slapstick as word though seems to somewhat demean the creative process going on here. True, there are prat falls, dynamite juggling and creeping round invisible corners that only the characters themselves can see, but it is all performed with such a grace and technique that it feels more than just wanton silliness (although, of course, this is the aspect that the younger members of the audience appear to enjoy the most). It is hard not to care for these characters who appear to be locked, Tom and Jerry like, in perpetual struggle and, as a result, the jokes all contribute to the overall narrative and the creation of character.
The impression of carefully crafted jokes is only added to be the harmonised lighting and music. Every gesture is accented by the plucking and tweaking of an acoustic guitar, increasing the tension. In addition, there is a visual charm to the world that Principio Attivo Teatro have created, in particular through the complementary suitcases that the two rivals have, containing all of their worldly goods. It is never explained why these characters are in conflict or who exactly they are but that will not cause you concern for long, not when you quickly become so involved in this world – and accepting of its rules. One definitely got the impression that the story was more absorbing to adults than to children however, with one young girl deciding to leave halfway through and not returning. Despite this, the show is a beautiful work that may come into its own when it is working to absorb the attention of older and less fidgety children.