La Vie Dans Une Marionette (3 stars)

La Vie Dans Une Marionette

Gentle physical comedy with a heart

The White Face Crew hails from New Zealand, but it's a French woman who greets us upon arrival (in accent at least), and has everyone giggling within seconds.

She talks us through what makes a good audience member (laughing, clapping) and what makes a bad one (looking bored, talking on our phones, eating noisily), building up a lovely rapport with everyone in the room.

And then the story begins – a touching tale of a lonely clown who has shut himself away from everything and everyone. Tama Jarman is both funny and poignant in the role, with his pillow-stuffed shirt and painted face, throwing sharp looks at the audience if he thinks we're looking at his bum.

The arrival of a huge package turns his world upside down, when a marionette climbs out of the box and into his life – annoying him at first, but ultimately helping our sad clown learn to live again.

This is gentle, understated theatre, with all three cast members turning in strong performances. A few more humorous touches wouldn't go amiss – which there's certainly scope for in the slapstick interplay – and the reason behind Jarman's seclusion could be spelled out a little clearer. But by the time 'Frenchwoman' Nikki Bennett is showing us back out, we've been sufficiently tickled to leave with a smile.

Gilded Balloon at the Museum, until 28 Aug (not 21), 10.30am, £8.50–£9 (£7.50–£8).

La Vie Dans Une Marionette

  • 3 stars

A whimsical story of a pianist and his puppet, packed full of gags, hilarious moments and surprises. Experience physical theatre and clowning at its finest, with fun for the whole family.

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