Journey and Temple of the Tattie

Journey and Temple of the Tattie

Manipulate 2020: A beautiful feat of shadow puppetry and a bizarre ceremony of spuds

Some of the most powerful stories about the transition from childhood innocence to experience involve girls who go underground — think Persephone, or Alice in Wonderland. Drawing upon this tradition, the staging of Swallow the Sea's Journey (★★★☆☆) in Summerhall's basement galleries feels particularly appropriate, as the audience follows a young girl's headlong plunge into an eerie underworld after she plucks a feather from the ground. The set, a delicate composition of canvas and paper cuttings, is illuminated by a single performer with a head lamp, accompanied by an evocative Swahili love song. A fantastical and atmospheric feat of shadow puppetry, the mythic imagery of Journey lingers in the mind long after the audience emerges into the daylight.

Temporary Commons' Temple of the Tattie (★★☆☆☆) likewise has a strong symbolic totem at its disposal: the potato. That most essential of tubers, a staple of civilisations and Sunday roasts alike. Taking place in a near future, 'post Brexit, post a-crop-alypse', the high priests of this potato cult indoctrinate their audience through rituals of praise, potato scrubbing and genuflection. While all this is done with good fun and plenty of whimsy, the gods of this production are ultimately false, as the show fails to engage with any political themes, or fully exploit the potato's strong cultural and culinary associations in the West. While Temple of the Tattie will certainly inspire some to seek out a starchy dinner, there is a sense of potential – and appetites – unfulfilled.

Reviewed at Summerhall, Edinburgh.

Manipulate Festival

Puppet Animation Scotland collates a collection of world-class animation, puppetry and related performing arts of all styles and techniques from a range of international artists and companies. The 2020 event features late-night music events, café-cabarets, workshops and more.

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