The Red Balloon Puppet Show Review

I think it is safe to say whilst puppetry is having a renaissance, there isn’t a whole lot of marionette work being done. The Red Balloon is a delightful exception and has been touring nationally with a lovely, simple and gorgeously visual story about a boy and his balloon.

Presented and adapted by String Theatre from the Albert Lamorisse film, they provided a window into another world by creating a small marionette theatre within the much larger Norwich Puppet Theatre stage. It worked a treat in captivating little ones and adults alike and the focus was intense upon the little stage and the characters that danced (and floated) within it.

Accompanied by an emotive soundtrack these puppets did not communicate with words but instead the story was performed with a beautiful visual language that helped create an immersive world for the story. In terms of the puppets used, marionettes proves a great choice in terms of creating the balloon ‘character’ – there were no hands in the way of its flight and as everything else was also strung it worked perfectly in the world of the play. It was also a real treat to see the craft and the practice behind the performance of such a work, using such a form. From what I have seen of the film, it is shot quite expansively but this piece really worked in how it was shrunk down. The little puppets were incredibly expressive and the performance was enchanting.

The Red Balloon is not necessarily an uplifting story, there are real moments of sadness within it and these shone in this adaptation. There was though, enough playfulness to engage the smaller children and the theatre was full of a very moved and satisfied audience by the end of the show. There is certainly something very identifiable about a small boy and his love for a red balloon.