Bristol’s Soap Soup Theatre are mid tour of their production of ‘The Selfish Giant’ based on the short story by Oscar Wilde. I remember reading the story as a child and I was struck by the personification of the seasons – how spring did not visit the garden because they felt sorry for the children and snow and ice decided to stay.
The staging was simply beautiful and so imaginative. It bloomed as two bespectacled very likeable characters brought the garden to life as though two doddery nans were hanging out their washing. The simple mechanics of building the wall and the garden being engulfed in snow had my children captivated. I have never seen my boy so entranced by theatre.
The use of puppets perfectly conveyed just how tiny the children were in comparison to the giant. The actors were visible and throughout, switched between puppet and themselves to bring the characters to life. There is something magical in the duality of the actor and the puppet representing the same character. Each depiction gives you something the other cannot.
The show didn’t end when everyone got out of their seats. Attendees were invited to come to the stage and discover how the puppets worked and talk to the actors. I think this didn’t detract from the magic at all and the children really enjoyed the experience.
The thing that really stuck with me is that they weren’t afraid to let their young audience feel big feelings. And although the exact meaning wasn’t clear to my boy on times he was clearly affected by the music, lighting and atmosphere and curiously asking what are they doing? Why is she sad? Where has the Giant gone?
Beautifully heart-breaking and visually entrancing. I think the experience will stay with my children, and myself, for a long while.