'Les Hommes Vides' – Invisible Thread | London International Mime Festival
Beautifully performed and lovingly designed, 'Les Hommes Vides' by Invisible Thread is a must-see for budding puppeteers but excludes everyone outside this circle of knowledge. Artistic director Liz Walker’s mission to create theatre without “set...video or technology”, and charm audiences nevertheless, is no mean feat and is only acheived in part.
The accuracy and speed with which the main protagonists – two old men tabletop puppets – are manipulated is a pleasure to watch. The smaller puppets that follow move with pleasant simplicity, creating an interesting contrast. Performers Dik Downey and Liz Walker work in meticulous harmony, but it is with relief that we welcome back our two old men to close the show. These slapstick puppets are a masterclass in sharp and nimble manipulation. In the final flourish, a wooden block reading ‘Fin’ is slammed on the table and our puppeteers retreat behind it.
But the ‘Fin’ block could have turned up at any point during the twenty minutes. No climax would have been hindered, no plot cut short – mainly because there are none. Admittedly, when two doll heads fill their shopping baskets with small toy animals it may be a comment on consumerism, but even that isn’t clear.
The twenty minutes is keenly felt – 'Les Hommes Vides' isn’t substantial enough to keep attention piqued for any longer. Even the prospect of owning a winning raffle ticket barely wakes up some of the audience members. We never discover what happened to ticket holder 238; perhaps they were asleep.
The show is good. But without a story to follow, or a character to root for, it’s not as engaging as the manipulation deserves. If you want to see a perfectly controlled puppet, you should go. If puppetry isn’t necessarily your Mastermind topic of choice, this is just two small chaps throwing blocks of wood at each other.
'Les Hommes Vides' – Invisible Thread
London International Mime Festival