If the success of a piece of children’s theatre can be judged by how close the audience have crept to the stage by the end of it, the Yugen Puppet Company certainly hit the mark with their Good Friday performance at Coldingham Village Hall.
From the moment puppeteer Alison Monaghan stepped onto the stage to tell the tale of The Magic Horse, she had her young audience – and their adults - totally engaged – waving their arms, roaring hello and putting their hands up to show they believed in magic. Having stirred everyone to a state of excitement she did not disappoint – galloping through the audience with her flying ‘magic horse’ who she promised could take them anywhere they wanted to go.
The simple set of cloth trees and patchwork fields was enhanced by shadows created behind a lit screen – in this way horses flew and castles were built.
The audience themselves became the Forest of the Big Tall Hands, the Fields of Waving Grasses, and the Snappy Crocodile Waters, as well as guests at a grand palace ball.
The show attracted an audience aged from three to nine, all, along with grown-ups, gaining equal enjoyment from exuberant participation in the telling of the traditional Scottish tale.
By the end of the forty minute show, a princess had been found, central character Fingal had carried out every request a prince had made of him and of course unwittingly ended up winning the love of the princess for himself in the process.
Having witnessed the wedding the audience was waiting for the ‘they all lived happily ever after’ moment, but Alison kept them on the edge of their seats by reminding them that ‘this is a Scottish story, and they don’t end like that’.
After some other obstacles were thrown their way Fingal and the princess did indeed live happily ever after – as did the audience who were delighted to be allowed to meet the puppets at the end of the show.
RAQUEL LLOYD JONES