Loosely based on the 18th Century classic Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, three actors seek to enchant the audience through an artful fusion of theatre and puppetry. Sadly, they fall shy of the mark, mostly thanks to the confusing and outdated messaging around race and gender that left me scratching my head.
But let's rewind a little bit. First, we have our heroine Elizabeth Gulliver (Becca Cox), who upon her adventures encounters a cluster of quirky characters (all played by Kiell Smith-Bynoe). The final member of troupe operates the props and puppets and helps the special effects transitions come to life.
Occassional gems, like the gorgeous shadow box play and paper cut transitions, were the secret highlight for me, and I would've loved to see more of this in the play. The clever use of lighting, sound and projection also injected a level of much-needed artistry. Cox offered a convincing and energetic Elizabeth Gulliver, the props-woman's puppetry engaged her audience without words, and Smith-Bynoe demonstrated an impressive ability to switch between ages, voices and characters.
But these brief moments of magic were sadly overshadowed by problematic depictions of gender and race. In their attempt to present what I suspect is a feminist agenda, they failed to tackle these issues with creativity and grace, instead resorting to clumsy props and cheap jokes about what is between someone's legs.
For the most part, it was hard to tell who the intended audience was. Adults were bored and children were confused and startled. One distressed child repeatedly ended up on her mother's lap.
As a society, we expect artists to hold up a mirror to our failings and foibles. But we expect them to do so in a way that shifts the conversation forward, not drags it back to the depths. Sporting nineties-era gender messaging, highly problematic colonialist saviour syndrome and a golliwog to boot, this show apparently seeks to drown us in the depths of dogma one would hope we had already overcome.