Tobacco Factory Theatre
Sunday 22nd February 2009
Dreaming of nuclear holocausts and a world destroyed by bombs can surely be no coincidence after watching Tucked In’s ‘post apocalyptic fairy tale’ Jackajack.
Aimed at children aged six and above, the story centred on Jack, the little puppy that disobeyed his mistress and woke up to find the world destroyed around him.
It was strong stuff, though it completely fulfilled Tucked In’s objective of creating a magical piece of storytelling for children, which lets them experience the raw emotion of theatre without patronising them.
Little puppy Jack, brilliantly brought to life by puppeteer Katrina Marchant, battled through a world of dark magic created by the Narcs, the monsters that live in your bedroom shadows to get back to his mistress Lucille.
It was not easy theatre, and was definitely a story that infiltrates the subconscious at a deep level. Whether a child of six would pick up on the coming of the bombs would depend on their level of maturity and exposure to theatre that is not neatly packaged in pantomime form.
Though there was the potential to make a political statement with the bombing, the entire piece remained timeless though retaining some dystopian qualities.
It was refreshing to watch children’s theatre that was fairly disturbing, reminding you of the fairy tales of old, full of their imprisoned maidens, evil stepmothers and murderous witches.
There were lighter moments with the hilarious story of crayon legs and the invention of the double yellow line all portrayed through inventive shadow puppetry. The appearance of Adam Morris, in the role of Mr Three Times, didn’t come in a second too soon to lift the mood.
Six-year-old Emily, who watched the performance said: “I really liked the puppets, the little dog the most, and we could go up and touch the puppets at the end which was brilliant. It was a bit scary at times and I didn’t like the puppy having to run away from things all the time. That was sad. I really liked it.”
Though in the end good triumphed over evil, evil didn’t go too far away, merely lurking in the shadows waiting to rear its ugly head again.
Jackajack is a modern urban fairy tale tapping in to the fears of parents and children. In real life evil is everywhere, there are relatively few happy endings, and Prince Charming doesn’t come flying in to save the day. The Narcs will always be waiting for you in the shadows.
As with all fairytales this one has a moral, which is basically when your parents tell you to do something, do it, or run the risk of waking up to a world destroyed around you. Children, you have been warned.