Sam Rose in the Shadows (4 stars)

This article is from 2013

Sam Rose in the Shadows

credit: Tucked In

Warm, sensitive and uplifting tale about sadness from puppetry and theatre company Tucked In

It’s a strange feeling, coming out of a show about sadness with a smile on your face. Even before this piece from puppetry and theatre company Tucked In begins, a warm atmosphere is in the air, buoyed by gentle ukulele songs and pre-show chatter with the audience about the weather. And even when we meet the unhappy Sam Rose – a life-sized rod puppet – his sadness is locked up inside the beautiful metaphor of a sealed box, a weight he is doomed to lug about wherever he goes.

Sam’s son Ivan believes his dad spends his days battling dragons, meanwhile Sam walks the shadowy streets, trying to come up with clever ways of destroying his box. It’s only after Ivan catches up with him and winds up in peril, that Sam realises exactly what’s at stake, and what he needs to do to gradually lighten his emotional load.

Tucked In’s sensitive allegory on depression is as smart and savvy as it is touching; it moves as much through laughter as through tenderness. There is no heartrending woe or tear-jerking pain here. Instead there’s a brilliantly created Mancunian oracle-therapist dishing out advice on how to find the key to that box, a courage-laden climax, and an uplifting message about talking through troubles with support from loved ones.

By building upon the metaphor of the box, the piece presents a frank and unsentimental picture, while the cast’s comic timing and eye for character means the mood is kept from turning maudlin. The only point at which things might get a little overwhelming for younger ones is the scene with the key-keeper, a clawed monster in a misty lair whose terror is perhaps a little too vivid. Demons aside, never has a story about sadness felt so positive.

Bedlam Theatre, 225 9893, until 24 Aug, noon, £9 (£7).

Sam Rose in the Shadows

  • 4 stars

Tucked In Productions and Greenwich Theatre. Sam Rose carries a heavy box. A sad thing box. A magical new play for anyone who has ever felt sad but now feels a little bit better. Told through playful visual theatre, delicate puppetry and memorable music. Created by Tucked In (Tim and Light, The Golden Cowpat, Jackajack…