In the wondrous finale of Swamp Juice, shadow puppetry is taken to a big, big scale in a way I have never witnessed before. It is breath taking, but let me take you back to the beginning. Jeff Achtem, the puppeteer, enters from the rear of the auditorium, miked up and kitted out eccentrically in goggles, bow tie and waistcoat, mini-kilt and purple hose. In his opening sequences, his actions are as much part of the performance as the action he is creating on a large screen.
The show begins quietly. Down in the swamp, there are squabbling snails, a snake, a bird, monsters in the watery depths and a villainous hunter. The action settles into the bird trying to evade the hunter.
Chase sequences are developed, building in intensity with the aid of a three piece band to enhance the visual action. Jeff Achtem disappears behind an enlarged screen and the audience are issued with 3D spectacles.
The 3D effects are spectacular. In a below water sequence, creatures come right up to your face. I instinctively flinched. This changes to the villain chasing the bird in a helicopter. There is a humorous ending to the tale but what remains in the memory is the excitement and ingenuity of the illusions created before your very eyes. By now, most of us have seen 3D in the cinema. However, whatever your age, to experience it live in a theatre does astound.
Reviewed by Ben
Underbelly Bristo Square: 300
14 to 27 August 2012
16.30 – 17.25
Fringe Programme Page Number: 324