The latest show by Green Ginger, the 40-year-old visual theatre company known for their intricate puppetry, is set in a near future in which people have microscopic workers – intronauts – in their bodies who maintain their internal organs and tend to ills and ailments.
Director Emma Williams uses three levels of scale – we see the host, a graphic designer (Adam Fuller) in 1:1, a ‘zoomed in’ puppet version of the intronaut, and the same, played human-size by Emma Keaveney-Roys.
Taking inspiration from 1960s sci-fi movies, the puppet level is the most entertainingly cinematic in style, expressively communicating the dangerous physics involved in navigating a human body. In full close up we see that her ship, designed by Chris Pirie, is a worn, retro piece of equipment, all flimsy metal and rusty orange paint.
But as our tiny intronaut heroine speedily zips up and down her host’s body, the show itself remains strangely inert. There’s too little story to sustain an hour of stage time, and the stakes rarely rise above a spot of intestinal itch. A lot of time is spent emphasising the danger of venturing into the brain, but the consequences of doing so aren’t explored very far.
Maybe this wouldn’t feel like such a problem if the performance didn’t also feel distant, set behind a wall of gauze which acts like a skin disengaging actor from audience and vice versa. Instead of being properly plunged into a rushing bloodstream, we idle on standby from afar, craving a little more urgency.