From the land of watering cans

Laugh Riot

Ensconced on a cushy staircase of Mekhla Jha Auditorium at National Bal Bhawan, Metrolife thought it was in for a simple story recited in an easy and fun manner for the play ‘A King’s Journey’.

Well, what does one do about the preconceived notions that somehow creep into one’s mind when you attend a theatrical performance targeted at a young audience. First things first, the shadow theatre production by the German performers Annette Wurbs and Peter Müller, was definitely fun, easy-going and light-hearted, going by the guffaws that resonated in the auditorium.

But it definitely wasn’t all that simple after all as Annette and Peter brought along 60 performers (rod puppets), packed in a bag, and entertained us with their live music, lighting, narrative and to top it all their on and offstage (read screen) casual banter.
The duo almost marched in on the stage with a trumpet, mouth organ and drums and played live music, shaking the audience out of their comfort. It was engaging, as it felt that they were talking directly to the audience, introducing themselves, their characters and ending on a note, with an emphatic, “Well, we have a story, as well!”

What ensued was a round of laughter and believe us, it went on throughout the 60-minute performance. Even when the act ended, the audience was in for a mega surprise when Annette and Peter invited everyone to see all that had happened behind the screen.

To perform the story of a fictional town inhabited by around 60 shadow figures, a complex web of mechanics were being swiftly choreographed along with a rollicking narration behind the screen. More than full marks for that! Dazed with the background drama of it all, children and adults were left in awe as Peter and Annette explained the nitty gritty of the production, explaining how light works to magnify a puppet on a projector. When we noticed chits on the boards, Metrolife curiously enquired about it and Peter told us, “Whenever we perform in places where we cannot relay the story in German, we make sure we have some text to aid us during the show.” Anybody who attended this show would vouch for it, that this was one hitches and hiccups-free performance.

Though there’s no way to give you a peep into the enchanting charm of ‘A King’s Journey’, its magic lies in its images, the duos off and onstage tiffs and banter and their spontaneity, we can only offer you a gist of the storyline that goes like this: In the fictional country of watering cans and umbrellas, the king has to deliver a speech. At the outset, he comes across as someone who is lazy or
perhaps attuned to his life of comfort.

To his aid, comes Mrs Care, his personal attendant, you could call her that. While he throws tantrums and avoids writing his speech, Mrs Care tries to ensure that he delivers the speech anyhow. The king had never left his castle before, and when one day the tower falls apart, he tumbles down through the earth to the other side!

Mrs Care also falls. Having arrived on the other side of the earth, both of them want to go home. This means travelling halfway around the world! But for someone like this king, it is not easy at all. Almost impossible, in fact, especially when he starts arguing with Mrs Care. The arguments between the two, especially when Peter (King’s voice) comes off-screen and asks Annette to continue without him, make for an interesting watch. Their effervescence is quite infectious. You cannot leave the auditorium without feeling a tinge of affection towards the duo as they end the play with another thumping round of live music. live music.

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