The Puppet Showman

Date 4th January 2020
Society Ace Theatre Group
Venue The Marven Centre, Sawston, Cambridge.
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Carol Wratten
Musical Director Kirsty Wright
Choreographer Carol Wratten


Author: Decia Ranger

We were warmly greeted by the Front of House people on arrival and shown to our reserved seats.  This was the opening performance of Carol Wratten’s annual pantomime which is always written, directed and choreographed by her and it was obvious that, as usual, a lot of love, as well as an inordinate amount of hard work had gone into getting this production to the stage.

Hans Christian Anderson wrote the original story of the travelling showman who entertained his audiences with his cast of puppets which he kept in a suitcase.  His dearest wish was to direct a cast of live entertainers, but sometimes it pays to be careful what you wish for.

The cast was made up almost entirely of young people who were well rehearsed and for the most part, show ready for this opening performance. There was a lot going on in this production with many of the cast playing two or more characters, so everyone had plenty to get involved in.  There was an excellent sword fight as well as a good tap dancing sequence by the ‘puppets’ and some lovely ballet dancing.

Projected scenery and suitably atmospheric music accompanied the prologue, which was delivered from off stage.  Seraphin the guardian angel then entered and introduced herself.  A very nice performance by Eva who spoke her lines very clearly and I was impressed with how composed she was as she entered and exited the stage.

Jacob as puppet man Daniel Barton gave a good performance, as did Sienna as his wife Maisie.  There were other good performances in this production. Holly as the Barton’s daughter Victoria, Maya as The Traveller and Charley as the puppet’s costume maker Jenny.  A good confident portrayal of Robin of Loxley by Emily.

Thomas and Will were great as Black Hawk and Grey Falcon and there was good expressive acting from Ali as Grazelda.  Although these three characters did engage to a certain extent with the younger members of the audience, I think some may have found them, especially Grazelda who had some rather protracted dialogue, a bit too scary at times.

Well done to the “puppets” all of whom were beautifully dressed and played their roles well.  In fact the whole show was very well costumed with great attention to detail.  Congratulations must go to Wendy Berriman who I see from the programme was in charge of costumes.

The music had been carefully chosen, but without amplification the weaker singing voices were at times completely lost which was such a shame.   Scenery, with the exception of that projected during the prologue was sparse.  A simple set on two levels had been constructed and this worked well but I would like to have seen a little more colour and interest.

There were a lot of good things about this production but with two intervals, the first of which seemed longer than intended, I’m not sure the children in the audience were as engaged as they could have been which was a pity.

Well done though to everyone involved in this production and thank you for inviting me.