City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

A Wild Growling Happiness, Traverse Theatre, Review

By Justine Blundell - Posted on 06 February 2013

Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Nuku Theatre/Estonia, 60'
Created by performers from the Estonian State Puppet and Youth Theatre.
No Details available
Running time: 

A Wild Growling Happiness, created by performers from the Estonian State Puppet and Youth Theatre and performing as part of this year's Manipulate Festival, is a short piece of joyful abandonment. Described as ‘a story for every person with a young heart’, this strange and unusual performance had a child-like innocence that belied some of the more serious themes it explored. 

Two screens hanging above the stage displayed a message that began, ‘Aha! You made it. You are here! Well, here we go then...’ – stage right the script was in Estonian, stage left in English. From somewhere in the dark came a loud and powerful drumbeat and the written messages began to tell a story of envious gods and people who acted ‘all grown up’. Accompanied by an unseen typist and two funky-looking percussionists, four young women dressed all in black gave us an hour-long performance that paraded a playful sense of fun. 

There was a lot of pretend play involving shoes, puppets that were expertly crafted out of sheets as part of the action and a lot of genuinely brilliant humour (at least two of the women could be successful stand-up comedians – perhaps they are?). The similarities between the naïve cruelty of children and the capricious shallowness of those adults seduced by designer labels and anorexic celebrities, were cleverly and hilariously portrayed. There was also a repetitive, rambling monologue spoken while pathetically trying to escape from under a sheet, which had a lot of the audience convulsed with laughter.

About half way through, the performers switched their spoken language from Estonian to English, and the screen messages changed their function from translating and storytelling, and became more questioning and interactive. This leant a further dimension to a performance already bursting with creativity and layers of meaning. 

Amid the often non-sequential active mayhem, the text intermittently provided seemingly unrelated philosophical comments on topics such as the nature and purpose of dreams, the blurred boundaries between waking and sleeping and even offered possible suggestions as to the meaning and purpose of human life. 

Bizarre in a thoroughly entertaining way, it may have you laughing without really knowing or understanding quite how or why. If this sort of thing takes your fancy then, in their words, ‘pinch your seat and be ready… and keep your eyes open…’!