A Hand-Made Tale, from Unity Young Creatives, in association with Katy-Anne Bellis for Headstrung Puppets, is a surreal exploration of isolation and its effects on mental health. Ironically relevant to the current climate, this disorientating piece of theatre, directed by Roger Hill, Carl Cockram and Kate Jeffries, is beautifully intricate and fantastically bizarre.

The piece is performed by an ensemble of actors comprising Isabella Bond, Megan Brodie, Nathan Crosby, Louise Farr, Grace Hunt, Amy McAlan, Tom Micallef and Lydia Rowlands, together with two actor-musicians, Coby O’Brien and Aliya Venkatesan Woolf, who both wrote and perform the soundtrack.

The show opens with the cast unpacking their hodgepodge selection of props from a plastic box. Everyday household items are used alongside torches and a overhead projector to cleverly create a number of different scenes and items. The shadow puppetry using corkscrews is particularly charming and memorable as is the delightful tissue paper puppet.

The play features elements of fable style storytelling, focussing on the theme of isolation, which leads into surreal scenes utilising mime, musical performances, eerie layers of whispering and ear-piercing cacophonies. Light and sound is used to excellent effect to create tension and drama, as well as bewilder the audience.

Echoes and repetition are interestingly used to emphasise the surreal elements of the piece. Some lovely handmade percussion instruments create disconcerting levels of noise which bring to the fore the dark elements of the piece.

There are some extremely strong performances in this unique and fantastical drama. The end of the piece does trail off somewhat, in a truly bizarre conclusion, but on the whole this adds to the disorientating nature of the piece. This is a show which needs to be seen to be believed, and has so many layers you will still be thinking about the meaning long after the final bow.

A Hand-Made Tale is being performed at the Unity again on 14th March 2020. Tickets are available here https://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk/whats-on/a-hand-made-tale-uyc/

Reviewer: Donna M Day

Reviewed: 13th March 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★