@ The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen on Fri 29 Jan 2016; and
@ Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on Wed 3 Feb 2016
(part of Manipulate Festival)

A well-established nine year old on Scotland’s festival scene, Manipulate celebrates the crème de la crème of global puppetry, visual theatre and animation, while encouraging emerging Scottish talent.

Julian Crouch and Saskia Lane’s European premiere of Birdheart opens the festival at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree – a charming and intricate animated theatre piece featuring the sweetest crumpled piece of brown paper you’ll ever encounter.

Their set is simply a raised sandpit, in which a lone egg sits as we wait for the show to begin. As the lights grow dim, the egg begins to crack, and a restless and inquisitive spirit emerges.

The character begins to find her feet, and other extremities, including a pair of breasts buried in the sand. It’s a bit like watching the riddle of the Sphinx in animated form, as the puppet continues to evolve throughout the piece, from heartbreaking, lonely lows, to full uninhibited flight.

Crouch and Lane’s movements are almost as beautifully choreographed as their puppet, moving completely and effortlessly in sync with each other to manipulate and animate even the slightest of human emotion. Their ability to make us forget we’re watching a crumpled up piece of paper in sand is spectacular.

The New York based pair bring an impressive and renowned back catalogue of work to the piece – Saskia Lane is best known for her band the Lascivious Biddies, and has worked alongside such diverse artists as Beyonce, Enya and the Kronos Quartet. Master puppeteer Julian Crouch is a world-renowned theatre designer whose scenic design in the Broadway version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch is about to embark on a nationwide US tour. It’s an extra special treat for the well-attended audience on a chilly Aberdeen evening.

Try to get as close to the front as you can to see the beautiful intricacies of this magnificent show, but watch out for sand showers.