Boulder (3 stars)

This article is from 2019


Classical myth meets total theatre

Kent-based Half a String theatre company had a hit two years back with the enchanting, small-scale A Heart at Sea, and they return this year with a far more ambitious show. Combining puppetry, animation, live music and an elaborate set, Boulder takes as its starting point the Greek myth of Sisyphus, condemned to push a giant rock up a mountain for eternity, only for it to ceaselessly crash back down again.

While there's inevitably a fair amount of repetition in Boulder, it's to the company's credit that they discover so much humanity in their story, as their grouchy central figure – given plenty of character by puppeteer Nicholas Halliwell – develops a strange relationship with his burden, by turns adversary, mystical seer, even cherished companion. Equally impressive are designer-director Peter Morton's intricate puppets and props, not least the massive boulder itself and the mysteries it contains.

But Boulder is a far opaquer show than Half a String's previous work: it's not always entirely clear what's going on, and a little spoken storytelling wouldn't have gone amiss. Its conclusion – that determination and resilience can be ends in themselves – is laudable, but the route they take to get there could be better signposted.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 17 Aug, 12.10pm, £9–£12 (£8–£11).


  • 3 stars

A puppet show for the entire family, centred around the Greek myth of Sisyphus.