Exquisite puppet show will delight Jeffers’ fans big and small alike
The stage adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ How to Catch a Star is running at the O’Donoghue Arts Centre, Galway Anita Murphy
Director Marc Mac Lochlainn joyfully indulges the undramatic moments of Jeffers’ story while adding his own signature: the battle between a seagull and a worm is one particularly memorable scene
By Sara KeatingOct 14, 2018
In the 14 years since its publication, Oliver Jeffers’ debut picture book How to Catch a Star has become a classic of children’s literature, and Jeffers, who has designed the artwork and sets for U2’s international tours among other high-profile gigs, has become a global superstar. For hipster parents, Jeffers’s books are affordable wall art. For children, however, he is just a brilliant storyteller; and Boy, the hero of To Catch a Star and three other Jeffers stories, is a particularly memorable character.
This stage adaptation from Galway-based Branar, then, already has a captive audience, and familiarity with the book would be a particular boon for potential viewers. This is not because the narrative of the performance is not clear - a little boy tries, using a variety of ingenious devices, to capture a star, and settles for a starfish - but the wordless storytelling is subtle. Piecing together the phases of Boy’s journey will keep the attention of those in the know as the puppet show follows its natural contemplative pace, but those without the original context may struggle.
Suse Reibish’s exquisite puppetry brings life to Jeffers’s protagonist, with his stick-like limbs and oversized head. Visible puppeteers, Grace Kiely and Neasa Ní Chuanaigh, animate his every move with tiny gestures and muted expressions of their own. Director Marc Mac Lochlainn joyfully indulges the undramatic moments of Jeffers’ story while adding his own signature: the battle between a seagull and a worm is one particularly memorable scene. Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s twinkling score, meanwhile, adds to the wonder of the tale, especially the boy’s final discovery.
How to Catch a Star comes with a recommended age suggestion of 4+, and potential family audiences would be wise to heed the guideline. Even if your under-4s are fans of the book, it will be challenging them for to sit still and quiet for the 45-minute show. This is the sort of highly realised performance that demands it.
You can see How to Catch a Star this week from Monday to Wednesday at the O’Donoghue Arts Centre, Galway, where it is one of 13 productions taking place as part of Baboró International Arts Festival for Children. There is opera for young audiences (Getting Dressed, Nun’s Island Theatre, Friday-Sunday), an acrobatic human tetris (Tetris, Black Box Theatre, Monday-Thursday), and a variety of classics reinterpreted for kids, including Black Beauty (Town Hall Theatre, Thursday-Sunday) and Nosferatu (An Taibhdhearc, Friday-Sunday). Baboró runs across a variety of the city’s venues until Sunday, October 21.