Victoria Fringe 2019: The Robber Bridegroom

Puppets can take you straight to The Uncanny Valley.

Yes! This is how you tell a story.

It starts with a wedding and a fainting bride. In her swoon — with the help of a chorus called the Grimm Sisters — the bride has the courage to confront her repressed memories.

In that backstory, the bride is sixteen and a poor miller’s daughter when she is betrothed to a wealthy man. But when she journeys to his house in the middle of a forest, she discovers horrors in his basement — horrors about missing and murdered women and girls.

With Jeffrey Epstein in the news and our knowledge of the Highway of Tears, it’s impossible to miss the relevance. And it’s unsettling to think just how archetypal this tale is.

But the tone is not didactic. This isn’t the most polished production in the world, but, as established by adapter and director Andrew G. Cooper, the surreal style of The Robber Bridegroom is studded with moments of magic.

Puppets take us into another dimension. To portray their characters, company members strap puppets around their waists — so the actors’ legs become the puppet characters’ legs. The operators move the puppets’ heads on rods and shadow the puppets’ carved hands with their own so the characters can pick up objects. The puppet characters don’t use language, they communicate in the elemental vocabulary of murmurs and moans, sighs and laughter.

At the Waterfront Theatre on September 6 (5:00 p.m.), 8 (4:00 p.m.), 9 (8:50 p.m.), 10 (9:00 p.m.), 13 (8:30 p.m.), and 14 (2:30 p.m.) Tickets

This review is based on a performance at the Victoria Fringe.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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