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Gulliver’s Travels review at Curve Leicester

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Gulliver’s Travels is a weird and uncomfortable story on many fronts, a satire that shows human nature at its most base and disgusting.

But it’s also a cracking good adventure, perfect material for Curve’s Spark Children’s Art Festival. Dragon Breath Theatre, which develops a production with schools and students over a two-year period, manages to bring out the magic without ignoring the tough stuff, using puppetry and juxtaposition of scale to create some enduring images, reinforced by Nettie Scriven’s designs.

It’s simply and imaginatively done, a suspension of disbelief that can see a diminutive, creeping army of red-plumed soldiers slowly advancing across the chest of a life-sized Gulliver, or a miniature Gulliver in a giant world. A swathe of rippling blue silk is the tide carrying a flotilla of boats. Princesses Gigi and Gaga, two ghastly Sloanes who bully Glumdalclitch, are a pair of painted puppet hussies just short of grotesque.

There’s a gleefully revolting scene in the underworld below the farting giant, where two unsavoury servants lament their task as shovellers of the mountainous excrement that results from his laying waste of all the cattle and crops of Lilliput. Moments of pure beauty come with the presence of the horses, whose refinement and nobility still the audience completely.

Chris Jack gives a very convincing performances as a Gulliver driven mad by his experiences, to the distress of his sweet-natured daughter, Molly. There’s valuable experience here too for a supporting cast that includes several students from the company’s emerging artists scheme.

Production Information

Curve, Leicester, May 26-June 2, then touring until June 30

Writer
Jonathan Swift, adapted by Peter Rumney
Directors
Adel Al-Salloum, Peter Rumney
Producer
Dragon Breath Theatre and Curve
Cast includes
Chris Jack, Jennifer Welwright, Jim Findley, Becky Matter, Yvonne Magda, Epha Roe, Katie Shirtcliffe, Emma Terrell
Running time
1hr 15mins

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