wed 19/06/2024

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Brighton Festival 2023 review - Gabriel Garcia Marquez in a creative retelling | reviews, news & interviews

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Brighton Festival 2023 review - Gabriel Garcia Marquez in a creative retelling

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Brighton Festival 2023 review - Gabriel Garcia Marquez in a creative retelling

A wonderfully sweet and simple tale of magical realism

Brighton Festival's children's theatre show at the Sallis Benney Theatre

Brighton Festival has a knack for choosing children’s theatre that is in equal measure as magical and captivating as it is simple and easy to understand. It’s an equation that means both adults and children alike can be sure to have an experience that promotes creative imagination, stimulating conversation and calm reflection.

Dan Colley’s retelling of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s tale A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings consists of two storytellers, a kitchen table and a cast of tiny figurines in front of a cardboard set. The pair inform us that “we tell the story because we like it” and issue a warning that “there is no lesson, so don’t go looking for one.”

Perhaps there really isn’t anything to learn here from the magical realist story of an invasion of smelly crabs that make Pelayo and Elisenda’s baby sick, a fugitive of celestial history (the ancient man who may or may not be an angel), Father Gonzaga the local priest, the woman who was turned into a spider for disobeying her parents, the village boy who brands the angel with a hot iron, and the puppet child learning to walk.

But the characters are the perfect vestibule for children’s physical theatre and the plot is as kaleidoscopic as the carnival that comes to town. Within the theatre setting it’s a bit like watching two friends play with dolls in their dolls house – she’s the precocious one and he’s the sweet simpleton that follows her around picking his nose – a dynamic that resonates with the children in the audience and makes them giggle.

The short piece (45 minutes in total) gathers pace, building to a jazzy song about angel merchandise before a final poignant scene that leaves small revellers entranced – as much by the beating wings and shadow play detailing the angel’s escape as the ability to gather soft handfuls of white feathers left strewn upon on the stage.

The plot is as kaleidoscopic as the carnival that comes to town

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters