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Venus And Adonis At Swan Theatre - Review

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RSC Revives Poetry Puppet Production
This may be Shakespeare's famous age-old poem about the goddess of love and her infatuation with hunky Adonis but it's visualised in a refreshingly different way.

Venus and Adonis rsc
Puppetry in motion during Venus and Adonis

Using puppets of all sizes, this revival of Gregory Doran's production features the clear, melodic tones of narrator Suzanne Burden and guitarist Nick Lee.

It's a simple but effective rendition of Venus and Adonis as a puppet masque. Originally performed in 2004, when actor Michael Pennington was the narrator, this enchanting version has been given a re-airing for a brief time until August 4.

Despite being based around puppets, it's surprisingly witty, sensual and even seductive for what feels like an intimate performance in the Swan Theatre in Stratford upon Avon.

Rsc Venus and Adonis
Animal puppets also feature in the charming show

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) teamed up with London's Little Angel Theatre - a puppetry theatre company for children - to zap new energy into the mythological tale.

The puppets are beautifully expressive and lifelike, even scarily sultry as Venus finds it hard to take no for an answer and seems to badger young Adonis into submission.

There are animal puppets too, including horses, a hare, and a boar to add variety during the one hour show. There's an element of the puppetry similar to that seen in the popular War Horse theatre production.

Rsc Venus and adonis
Beautiful Venus gets her clutches on Adonis

Doran, the RSC's Artistic Director, said he'd taken inspiration from Japanese Bunraku puppets during a trip to Osaka. The puppets that are about a third life size are operated by three manipulators, who although visible throughout, managed to disappear from my mind as the marionette puppets took centre stage.

There's also some lovely interaction between the puppets and narrator helping to bring a smile along the way.

Memorable, charming and totally distinctive, Venus and Adonis makes a welcome return, but not for long, so catch it while you can.

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Why? See Shakespeare's poem accompanied by puppets
When: Until August 4
Where: Swan Theatre
Cost: 10
Your Comment
The puppets look amazing.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12626) 1508 days ago
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