The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey; a challenge for puppetry, live animation and performance

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I was lucky enough to catch the Paper Cinema’s Odyssey at the Brighton Dome a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful rendition of the most challenging and ambitious text they could get their hands on; The Odyssey. Stripped down to crucial details only, it existed as a piece of live art – often lacking depth in the story but gaining far more than that in the stunning way it was told. From the very beginning, the audience was witness to the calm urgency of Nicholas Rawling’s actions, as he introduced us to the protagonists by illustrating them in front of us. Barely a minute went by and he had created characters, a vision, and a very effective beginning and we were complicit in Paper Cinema’s creative process.

Although I cannot speak for other audience members, I felt an acute feeling of being charmed by Paper Cinema, which I seemed to share with others. Hundreds of paper puppets were filmed, moving across the camera lens and projected onto a large screen. Their methods of portraying immense speed and flying, for instance, were incredibly simple, and being privy to watching how it was achieved delighted us and made us laugh.

The whole piece was performed and no words were uttered; Paper Cinema were brave enough to show a rendition of the Odyssey absolutely wordless. What they did have was an incredible musical score; which traced and highlighted moments of jubilation and sadness very directly. Watching musicians perform foley too, was part of Paper Cinema’s charm; as one musician stomped upon a tray of rocks, giving the impression of walking upon a sturdy and uneven path. Ultimately, we were invited to share in the illusion of Paper Cinema and their story. In a post-show discussion, the puppeteers spoke of the homemade approach to creating the puppets – the majority of which were made of cereal boxes. Only problem is, the quality of the cereal boxes nowadays is much more flimsy than in the past! One audience member spoke about a previous project which Paper Cinema had tackled – an outdoor performance with their work projected upon huge white cliffs. Responding to site in this way is an exciting potential option for Paper Cinema and crucially, is in keeping with their charming and home-made appeal. Their tour of the Odyssey is rapidly coming to an end, but if you ever get a chance to catch their work, then I urge you to do so – you will not be disappointed!


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