The Selfish Giant

Norwich Puppet Theatre

Oscar Wilde's much-loved fairy tale about the Selfish Giant who built a high wall round his garden to keep out pestering kids is reworked with shadow puppets, images from the East Anglian Film Archive and atmospheric live harp music.

The 1920s film footage is projected on to music sheets to present a nostalgic mirror into the past – a great idea in principle except the youngsters depicted are playing in a school yard and not a lovely garden!

Performed by enthusiastic duo Samuel Dutton and Clare Mckenna and told using recurring symbolism; the teacup of friendship shared with an ogre, the teacup of loneliness when winter pervades the garden and finally the rattling teacup of ailing health as the giant confronts his own death. Dutton's witty characterisation of the elements, as winter takes a hold on the giant's garden, was the indisputable highlight of the show.

It's not a storyline with a predictable happy ending, but one that finds a beautiful and reassuring way of addressing the last taboo – death. Despite the religiosity of Wilde's original text, imbued as it is with a universal timeless morality, director Luis Boy said he aimed for a more “pluralistic interpretation”. The little boy who melts the giant's heart with a trusting kiss is supplanted with a melancholic image of a formally attired youth and the stigmata is projected as the drilled feet of wooden puppets. This interpretation sacrificed the essential pathos, so despite the skill and energy of the shadow puppeteers, it seemed a trifle over analytical for the under-eights.

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