Slapdash Galaxy @ Underbelly (Bristo Square)
Children’s entertainment typically consists of garish colours and raucous noises. While Scamp Theatre’s Slapdash Galaxy is indeed filled with strange and frequently unintelligible utterances from solo performer Jeff Achtem, it substitutes a brighter palate for the dark and gloomy realm of shadow puppetry.
The lighting isn’t all that’s murky; for a piece of kids theatre the tone is often quite sinister. We follow two brothers as they set off in a rocket to find a new world to inhabit after global war ruins their home planet. Its themes of abandonment and death, and its plot involving monsters and pirates are made all the more creepy by an often unnerving soundtrack. These moments however, are balanced by well-timed comic gurgles or the revelation of another playfully imaginative character. Achtem’s skilled performance, combining the carefully considered manipulation of his delicate looking props with a surprisingly emotionally evocative dialogue of half sentences and assorted grunts, helps to humanise the monochrome silhouettes.
Although a loose narrative exists, it’s overshadowed by the variety of mesmerising techniques on display; light shining through bubbles, a moving screen and a smoke cannon, all working to transport you into Achtem’s immersive world of whimsical fantasy. His absorbing scampering is rounded off by a 3D sequence that puts cash cow blockbuster movies to shame with its unpretentious elegance. In some respects, Slapdash Galaxy is a simple, stripped back affair with an endearing ramshackle quality to it, but under its skin it’s a highly polished act supported by an innovative range of disciplines that look as effortless as they are stupefying.