The Story of Mr B review at Institut Francais, Edinburgh – ‘endearing’
Mr Bumblegrum is very grumpy, in fact he’s never happy, ever. And so, to help us understand why, two cheeky toadstools bounce on to the puppet stage to introduce The Story of Mr B. In this tale for children about finding happiness, Australian Jessica Nicholls and Swiss Pierre Filliez strike an enchanting balance between funny and sad, told through a huge book that opens up to become Mr B’s universe.
Peopled by expressive sandbag puppets, moving forests and fluttering butterflies, the pages open to reveal Mr B’s house, an alpine railway station, a winter forest or a little window through which we see a shadow play candlelit dinner. We see how Mr B fell in love, travelled, had adventures and how tragedy befell him. But being reminded of all the wonderful people he met and places he visited doesn’t make him feel any better, so all the animals and trees in the forest where he lives join together to show him how to be happy.
The innocently simple delivery addresses big themes boldly but sensitively, filtered through a fairytale narrative. The result is an endearingly thoughtful show from Shake Shake Theatre where both puppets and performers connect magically with the audience.