Kkumdongi Puppet Theatre’s production of Climb a Willow to the Sea God’s Palace takes place across several formats: an illuminated screen which is painted in real time as a set for colourful shadow puppets, a table becomes a garden, a stream and houses where bunraku puppets frolic. The story is also projected as text and indeed included in the programme.
Visually, this is a charming production and children of an artistic bent will particularly enjoy seeing paintings created in front of them. There are moments of magic with the table too, as the audience are given a brief glimpse of the world beneath the water and a friendly giant fish. However the production struggles with the technical details and the language barrier. The projected English text is so dark as to be almost invisible, let alone legible. There is a considerable amount of dialogue in Korean which is fairly simplistic, but makes for scenes which may stretch the attention span of toddlers. Reading the programme is unlikely to be practical during the production, so it may be best to have a quick read through prior to the show and then sit back and enjoy the cultural experience.