REVIEW: Perseus & the Gorgon’s Head

Perseus and the Gorgon's Head  (c) PuppetCraftThis review was originally written for the Londonist

Part of the Suspense London Puppetry Festival, Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head played at The Little Angel Theatre this weekend.  Mixing people with puppets, the performance was an interpretation of an ancient Greek tale written by the late Adrian Mitchell.

The people took the form of five storytelling gods, given to meddling with the lives of unfortunate human beings as a way of relieving themselves of the boredom of eternal life.  The puppets were both a mixture of beautifully carved creations, operated generally by hand but also by string, and playful use of everyday objects and cloth.

The story was a classic, that of a son of Zeus, Perseus, who is challenged to kill Medusa, the infamous Gorgon who has snakes for hair and whose gaze turns men to stone.  The set was inventive, transforming from a feast laden table into a stage where bronze towers rose and sea monsters were defeated.

The Gorgon's Head  (c) PuppetCraftThe main character puppets were elegant and simple forms, but with detailed costumes and distinct personalities.  The three grey ladies were a particular delight.  Voluminous dresses housed three withered hags with only one eyeball to share between them, which they plucked out and passed between themselves in order to see.  It was skilful puppetry and brilliant to watch.

The human performers were clearly working hard, but there were a few clumsy moments and missed notes.  It’s a small space for five performers and 20 puppets, and the actors/puppeteers did a sterling job of adapting to it, but things didn’t run as smoothly as they could.  Although this was couched as ‘adult puppetry’ it didn’t feel like it.  It was certainly suitable for children and lacked knowing winks.  Charming, but perhaps a bit disappointing if you were expecting something a bit racier from the ancient Greeks.

Puppetry performances of all kinds continue throughout the week as part of the Suspense festival.  Whether you’re a puppetry connoisseur or a puppet virgin it’s definitely worth checking this festival out.  Find out more at www.suspensefestival.com

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