Review | The Tear Thief

This review was originally written for Animations Online

A shimmering puppet seated on an orb of moonlight hovers across a dusky stage, shared with a lone musician and his cello. It’s a magical beginning to a simple tale, which unfolds between the hours of supper and bedtime.

The main protagonist is an impish thief with a penchant for children’s tears. We witness her diving down chimney pots and scaling drain pipes in pursuit of the multicoloured and jewel-like drops that abound at certain, tiring times of day.

The script is based on a book by Carol Ann Duffy and so is as tight and delicious as can be, especially when delivered in the dulcet tones of Juliet Stevenson who has recorded the narration. The carved Tear Thief puppet, with her silver skin and spiky hair, is beautiful. The set feels particularly sparse but also has playful and inventive elements that allow the use of shadow and live action, as well as rod puppetry.

Performed by two very smiley puppeteers – Claire Harvey and Lowri James – this short play is slow-moving and uncomplicated. Overall the action feels both fragmentary and repetitive. It’s definitely aimed at younger children, although there is a question mark over whether the Tear Thief is a good or bad that gives the story a sinister rather than saccharine edge.

‘The Tear Thief’ is a Little Angel Theatre production in association with Royal Exchange Theatre. It plays until the 4th November.

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