Magical. That really is the only way to describe this production. Magical. Whatever age you might be, this play plunges you into a beautiful, captivating world of paper, shadows, music, and light. Oh, and also it does it with puppets.
Because, everybody loves puppets!
This show is every bit as enchanting, honest, absurd, and a occasionally disturbing as a children’s puppet show should be. It does some delightful work with silhouettes to bring the story to life, along with some unique but charming (and occasionally horrifying) marionettes. The story is simple, but intricate and doesn’t not dumb down or condescend to its young target audience, it treats them with credit and respect, and trusts them with a deep and emotional plot and character arcs.
It’s hard to describe exactly what is is that makes this production so mesmerising and engaging. The audio and visual aspects of the show are synchronised and smooth, the little songs are delightful and not overdone, the darker aspects are exactly the right level of dark. I feel a definite influence from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and the film thereof, but The Road That Wasn’t There does more than enough to establish its own sense of self and story. All this being true, I still find myself unable to say exactly just what makes this show so special.
I think it’s something that one needs to observe for oneself. There’s a universality to it. That nostalgia nearly all of us have for our childhood when all stories were true, and anything and everything felt plausible. All of us sometimes want to walk down a road that isn’t there, in hope of finding something better and more magical than the mundane lives we know.
Watching this show was the closest I’m likely to get to actually doing that.
For now anyway.