The Gomaar Trilogy presents three separate performances to tell the life of a farmers son called Gomaar. The first part of the trilogy is called Head Over Heels and inventive puppetry, spoken word and dramatic storytelling combine to introduce the characters and the first chapter in Gomaar’s story.
Ultima Thule are a company that present puppetry to children and adults. When the audience enter the theatre space they are greeted by the three enthusiastic and joyful performers. The optimism and high spirits don’t last long as we learn that we are in a war torn country where tragedy and turmoil have deeply affected the inhabitants. With minimal set design (a few wooden palettes) the performers do a great job of conveying a small curious town, where everybody knows everybody else. The population of this town is presented as puppets. Their design emphasises the despondent nature of the story. The puppets heads have no eyes, making them feel somewhat removed from the situation they are in. However, despite the lack of eyes, their expressions and feelings are beautifully orchestrated by the puppeteers.
The story sets the scene for Gomaar’s life. We learn of his humble upbringing and his inquisitive nature. This helps endear the character to the audience and emphasises the depth and emotion in Wim De Wulf’s script. The puppeteers also act as storytellers, occasionally leaving the puppets to the side of the stage to deliver the narrative of the play as spoken word drama. This works well as Els Trio, Kurt Defrancq and Sven Ronsijn of Ulitma Thule are as skilled with words as they are with puppets.
Head Over Heels is a great starting point for The Gomaar Trilogy. Even though the story continues with Look Who’s Here and Always Something Wrong, Head Over Heels feels complete. There was a satisfying ending, but just enough loose ends to make you want to come back to the Old Lab at Summerhall and experience the next two episodes.