Deaf director Caroline Parket provides here a top notch study in stagecraft. Our hero the prince goes on an adventure, has a swordfight and meets a beautiful princess. Unfortunately she is the daughter of a wicked sorceress who gives the prince three ‘impossible’ tasks – three objects he must find before he can take the princess’s hand. The prince journeys on, meets a man fishing who gives him his lucky waving cat, who helps him find the objects and return to the sorceress. She reneges on the deal, but the prince’s father turns up, sweeps her off her feet and they live happily ever after.
In the hands of the Krazy Kat Theatre Company, this Japanese folk tale is told with dance, music, mime, gentle comedy, amazing puppetry and above all energy and enthusiasm. The charismatic Kinny Gardner, co-founder of the company, along with cheeky Jim Fish and bubbly Tinca Leahy, not only set the scenes and provide the characters, largely using traditional Japanese Bunraku puppets, but throughout the play they also tell the story in sign language. A storm at sea is depicted using little more than a blue sheet and a snorkelling cat puppet, yet is very effective.
The cast also take every opportunity to relate directly with the audience – before, during and after the show – particularly important with its target audience of three to seven-year-olds. Because intended to include deaf children, the emphasis is on the visual, but there is plenty for the hearing audience, just as there is much to enjoy for anyone eight and over.