Since watching the preview for The Wider Earth and meeting the cast and puppets we have been eager to get back and watch the whole show, and we finally made it. A special treat for my birthday.
We went for the matinee showing as we all wanted to go and I thought Axel would be better with an earlier show, we all know what a delight tired toddlers can be. After finding our seats we excitedly awaited the start of the show. The stage only lightly lit, hiding the delights that I knew it had for us. I think having the theatre within the amazing building of the Natural History Museum just gives it even more presence, even more magic and, I can't think of a better place for a show like this, to me it feels like it is in its rightfull home.
Photo from the preview we watched last year
As the show started the room fell silent as everyone was transported in time to watch a young Charles Darwin begin the adventure that would go on to not only change his life but our whole understanding of the natural world. I have always been fascinated by Darwin, but as I'm sure many others will agree, Ive only ever really thought of him as an old man. It was refreshing to watch the story of this young man, fresh and vibrant and ready for adventure and discovery. To watch the world that he was up against when proposing such huge theories and to glimpse at just how difficult that musy have been just gives me even more respect for a man I already thought was very special.
The production itself is an absolute delight, the set is so clever, it is minimal and simple but is used to such amazing effect. The turning base that is transformed from a cliff, to an island, to an office and a boat (sorry a ship) with only a few small props to help it transform just provides the most perfect backdrop for the story to unfold. The screens up behind the stage really help to set the scene, giving a broader overview of each place that the characters visit, this combined with a clever use of lighting sets every scene perfectly and allows the actors and puppets to really shine, and that brings us rather nicely to the puppets.
The amazing, stunningly intricate, full of character puppets that you will 100% fall in love with. If you read my Spirit Collection Blog when we watched the Wider Earth preview you will know that Dex grabbed me and said how beautiful it was when the butterflies appeared, well I can tell you that magic comes through time and time again throughout the show, the fireflies got a gushing wow from both boys, they are so simple but done so brilliantly. All of the animals in the show are played by the most beautiful puppets, hand crafted and then maneouvered with such fantastic skill by the puppeteers (the actors....who manage to fade into the background whenever they are working the puppets on stage) from the butterflies to the galapagos tortoise they are all as fabulous as each other, but i think my favourtie just has to be the armadillo, so utterly full of character, full of fun and so endearing.
The performance lasts for 2 hours and takes you along with Darwins voyage on the Beagle, and the discoveries he made on the journey. You get a glimpse into what he went through, how his discoveries shaped his future and how difficult that must have been to bring into the world.
The show is amazing, an absolute must see for young and old alike. I feel like it has sparked something in Dexter and ignited his interests in Darwins discoveries even more, a fantastic stepping stone to open up to learning more. He was mesmerised throughout the whole show, grabbing me to point out the various animals and then absolutely full of questions as we left. It was brilliant to then be in the museum to fuel that enthusiasm. Axel loved it too, I was nervous about taking him as he has never been to anything like it before, but it turned out to be fantastic, he sat happily through the whole thing taking everything in, he loved all the animals and oohed and ahhed at all the right points. it was a lovely thing to experience with the whole family and to see how everyone reacted to it.
The Wider Earth is on at the Natural History Museum in London until 24th February 2019 you can find out more at https://thewiderearth.com and the amazing company behind the puppets is http://deadpuppetsociety.com.au