The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik (4 stars)

This article is from 2011.

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik

Poignantly Pixar-esque underwater adventure

Alvin Sputnik’s poster comparison to Wall-E is an apt one, although other Pixar parallels would fit equally well. As in Finding Nemo, this underwater world is vast and filled with danger. As in Up, there are moments of heartbreaking grief. And like Wall-E, Alvin himself is nearly wordless, delighted by odds and ends from a bygone era – and adorably cute.

The story is told through a mixture of animation, theatre and puppetry, with brief musical interludes, all conjured up by solo performer Tim Watts. His use of sparse lighting is extremely effective in depicting the vast blackness of the ocean, and his very basic rendering of Alvin’s physical presence imbues the character with warmth and humanity.

Borrowing elements from Pixar as well as echoing the melancholy sentiments of Tim Burton’s better work (we’re sure there’s an Edward Scissorhands music cue in there), Alvin Sputnik could be accused of imitation rather than creation – but only by the most jaded and cynical of critics. Everyone else will love the performance for its beautiful, heartfelt simplicity. Just remember to bring some tissues.

Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 28 Aug, 6pm, £10–£12.50 (£9–£11.50).

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer

A fusion of animation, puppetry, projections and music are used to tell the epic story of quiet hero Alvin's search for his wife's lost soul in the depths of the ocean.

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