Review: Grit, Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49)

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IN SOME ways, it looks more like a work-in-progress than a completed show, this gentle, tentative new piece from the young Edinburgh puppet theatre company Tortoise In A Nutshell. Its theme is the huge one of modern urban warfare and its impact on children.

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Its central character, represented by a beautiful table-top puppet, is a little girl poring over memories of her lost father, a war photographer.

What’s perhaps most striking about this 40-minute piece is its powerful use of shadow puppetry, and simple cut-out paper objects, to evoke the streetscape of embattled cities from Sarajevo to Homs. There’s also some eloquent music and sound, creating a strong sense of meditation and elegy. In the end, some of the sequences work better than others: the mock battle between two male puppeteers, using toy soldiers, adds very little to the show.

Yet there’s something impossible to forget in the sheer compassion and vividness of a show that focuses clearly on an individual loss, and yet succeeds in evoking a whole landscape of horror, as well as demonstrating the immense range and seriousness of modern “object theatre”, as a way of exploring the most profound and tragic subject-matter of our time.

Until 25 August. Today 8pm.