by Liz Ward
Happy Monday! We hope you’re either outside enjoying the sunshine or inside with a fan or the air-con on full blast.
A while back, I wrote a review of Handprint Theatre’s Soapy Sam, when it was performed at the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon last year. It was the first time I had seen it and I fell in love with the ball of cute that is Soapy Sam! I hope you enjoy reading the review…
A Flight of Imaginative Fantasy
By Lizzie Ward
Handprint Theatre are a brilliant and accessible new theatre company, using a combination of physical theatre, BSL (British Sign Language), puppetry and the talented array of performers and artists in their stable to create performances that strive towards a new vision of inclusive theatre. They create both performances aimed at adult audiences and they also run workshops and produce plays for children.
Soapy Sam is the adorable little puppet boy who hates bath time and loves to have interesting adventures – often down the plughole! There he meets an array of imaginative and colourful characters – some stranger than others. This weird and wonderful tale of a smelly little boy who will do anything to escape being scrubbed by soap delighted and charmed the little (and big) children in the audience, not least those of us who love imaginative flights of fantasy.
Marian Hoddy, Lucy O’Keeffe and Laura Goulden (also of SignDance Collective) bring this story alive using mime, physical theatre, expressions and puppetry. Their expressions are absolutely brilliant, conveying the highs and lows of Sam’s adventures below the plughole. The puppets are entire characters in their own right – the movements the cast use to bring the puppets alive are spot on. The performance made me wish I could have brought along some of the little kids I know so I could see their reactions and enjoy the puppet making workshop after the performance!
The scenery and set enhances the story – just sparse enough for the audience to imagine, yet also adding to the story. For example, when Soapy Sam eventually escapes the soapy underworld, the use of shadow puppetry was inspired. Dwayne Drain was also a fearsome character with huge eyes that gave me some nostalgia for a certain drum playing puppet on a certain TV show…
The show also balanced performance with audience participation, ensuring that children (and adults of course!) will feel connected to the story. Handprint truly are an inclusive company, and I for one can’t wait to see more of what they have to offer.
The Sunday performance is followed by a workshop – where children can create something inspired by Soapy Sam’s adventures. They also have a new book out – so that you can take the Soapy Sam story home. It is beautifully illustrated and brought to life by the talent of Alex Bennett, a professional illustrator!
Photography by Sarah Ward.