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The Wider Earth

“Impressive puppetry”

There’s a certain, old-style schoolboy thrill about this Australian import. A play about Charles Darwin’s legendary round-the-world voyage on the HMS Beagle, staged after hours in the Natural History Museum: it’s the kind of show that makes you feel 11 again.

There’s a lot that 11-year-olds would love about The Wider Earth. Writer and director David Morton’s story is packed with enough puppetry, projections and pulsating music to blow a young audience away. The recently-graduated Darwin is whisked from Cambridge to the Galapagos and back again in a filmic, fast-paced frenzy of snippety scenes, movement sequences, and impressively articulated wooden animals.

But impressive as the Dead Puppet Society’s giant turtles look, there’s not actually much for grown-ups to sink their teeth into here. Morton’s script is basically a succession of emphatically epic, awkwardly expositional exchanges, which rarely last longer than two or three lines. There’s enough scientific titbits to satisfy a school trip, but there’s a desert when it comes to genuine drama.

The cast don’t exactly embrace understatement either: Bradley Foster’s beardless Darwin is appropriately endearing, and Jack Parry-Jones is sufficiently strapping as Captain Fitzroy, but although everyone clambers over Aaron Barton’s rotating wooden set with enthusiasm, they’re all just a bit too shouty.

This is the first play to be staged in a new performance space built inside the Natural History Museum. It’s not all that sophisticated, but it’s staged with enough rocket fuel to see it over the line.

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Production Details
Production nameThe Wider Earth
VenueNatural History Museum
StartsOctober 2, 2018
EndsDecember 30, 2018
Running time2hrs 10mins
AuthorDavid Morton
DirectorDavid Morton
Set designerAaron Barton, David Morton
Lighting designerDavid Walters, Lee Curran
Sound designerTony Brumpton
Puppet designerDead Puppet Society
Casting directorEllie Collyer-Bristow
CastRory Fairbairn, Andrew Bridgmont, Bradley Foster, Ian Houghton, Jack Parry-Jones, Kim Scopes, Marcello Cruz, Matt Tait, Melissa Vaughan
Stage managerSophia Dalton
ProducerDead Puppet Society, Glass Half Full Productions, Trish Wadley Productions
VerdictAn overpowered production of an underpowered script about Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle
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Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

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