'All He Fears' | Movingstage Marionette Company | Suspense 2013
'All He Fears' was written exclusively for marionettes in 1993 by the British playwright Howard Barker and is an example of his Theatre of Catastrophe. During the Suspense festival, Movingstage present it in their intimate Puppet Theatre Barge, moored at Little Venice.
The play tells the misfortunes of a wretched character, a philosopher called Botius, who seems to conjure all his nightmares in one day. The text is part of the pre-recorded soundtrack. The original score by Matthew Scott gives the play an eerie atmosphere and sometimes creates a state of confusion.
The puppets are mainly long string marionettes, carved and designed by Gren and Juliet Middleton. Other kinds of puppets are also used to illustrate the surreal visions of Botius – the rod puppets operated from below the stage are made from wire and material by Colleen Magennis.
The manipulation of Botius is impeccable. He is a very expressive marionette who invites sympathy with his actions. He can do almost anything with ease, from sitting and kneeling, to lying down or running and jumping, falling down the rabbit hole towards his own hell and climbing the never-ending rope towards an impossible heaven. He breathes, he sleeps, he dies. He is alive.
With the exception of The Man and The Rat, the rest of the characters are not so convincing. For most of the time they just dangle their limbs, struggling to keep alive. Both the Hooligans are messy in their movements and sometimes it takes a real effort to understand their actions. The Agent of Police is also inaccurately operated, especially when he carries Botius on his back.
‘All He Fears’ is a puppet play for adults in two acts that features a very engaging marionette as its protagonist. However, one engaging character is not enough and the second act seems to go on forever, making the experience heavy.
'All He Fears' by Howard Barker
Movingstage Marionette Company