Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Melancholy review at the Warren, Brighton – ‘enchanting and imaginative’

With Sarah Kelly and Laura Jane Romer-Ormiston in Melancholy at the Warren, Brighton. Photo: Richard Davenport

Certain Dark Things’ deceptively slight show Melancholy is an evocative mix of puppetry, performance and animation that explores the nature of grief.

Stephen McCabe is a scientist left reeling by the death of his wife – driven almost to madness, he decides to rebuild her. Meanwhile, the puppet figure of a child hovers around him, left neglected by his obsession.

It’s a beautifully controlled piece that uses music and Emily Knight’s gorgeously gothic animation to great effect – the film charting the couple’s relationship is as if Tim Burton remade the opening sequence of Up. McCabe gives a sensitive (unspoken) performance, and puppeteers Sarah Morgan and Laura Romer-Ormiston wring a surprising amount of pathos out of their tiny charge. The result is both moving and ultimately uplifting, an exhortation not to let mourning what you have lost make you blind to what you still have.

The production is hampered by the limitations of a venue it’s not best suited for – poor sight lines mean it’s frustratingly hard to see much of the table-top puppetry from the back rows, and the carefully cultivated mood is sporadically punctured by blasts of pop music seeping in from the bars outside. But even with these distractions, it’s a thing of some loveliness.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Enchanting and imaginative exploration of loss using puppetry, performance and filmed animation