You may think you know the Greek myth of the seasons, but this enchanting 'shadow ballet' casts it in a whole new light. A beautiful story of conflicting loyalties between lover and family, it portrays Persephone no longer as a victim, but the master of her destiny - the pomegranate no longer a trick but a troth.
This show combines exquisitely-detailed shadow puppetry with real-life actor counterparts (all still in shadow). Through clever use of materials and headwear, you are left in no doubt as to who each character is, and the story switches well between the two media. Subtle use of colour, flowing between the underworld and the surface and painting the seasons on a tree, really helps the mood as well as the comprehensiveness and fluidity of the piece.
The three characters are introduced with small signs at the beginning of the piece, but these are the only words; the rest is beautifully narrated by Kris Rahamad on the violin. Even if you are unfamiliar with the original story you will be able to enjoy this piece. You may miss some of the subtler references, but a scene guide is in any case provided on the reverse of the cast list.
The puppetry was remarkably well done - conveying not only the story but an impressive amount of emotion and interaction. Gentle kisses and unbounded delight are equally readily apparent. However, some of the scenery changes could have been smoother, and the puppeteers' own shadows were sometimes distractingly in view.
The experience would also be considerably improved if only the screen were a few inches taller; as it is, heads are cut off during the lifts and spins of the live action. The live actors' entrances and exits, where they walk towards the light and become large and out of focus, are an interesting directorial decision. Sometimes they were very effective, but sometimes they broke the mood.
Overall then, this show succeeds in its aims of telling an old story and updating it, filling out the female characters and loosening the grip of fate as Persephone instead struggles to reconcile her new and old lives. It is elegant and visually appealing, surprisingly deep and very satisfying.