Hopeful Monster is both a new theatre company and a collaboration between Ella Mackay, Eti Meacock and Bori Mezö. All three have backgrounds in puppetry and they are presenting a new work in progress at the Manipulate Festival within the Rising Voices strand.

Transmographiles immediately captures the audience’s attention, thrusting them into an imagined underwater world where hands are inventively used to present majestic sea creatures that flow and glide through an imaginary ocean. The three performers are completely dressed in black with only their hands exposed. The hands join together to create shapes that evoke floating jellyfish and other underwater characters, the creatures reacting to with one another with subtle blue lighting, and an expressive soundtrack tjat adds to the overall illusion. As the show progresses, we are taken to new locations and experience a variety of different animals: birds, snakes and exotic creatures – all conjured with just hands, fingers and props. This technique gives the animals emotion, curiosity and character. Transmographiles is not so much a story; it is more of a journey through different locations that are populated by interesting creatures where physical theatre and hands are employed to present conflict and intrigue.

The show itself is only 30 minutes in length and a lot of imagination and ideas are presented in this short time-frame. As Transmographiles is a work in progress, it will be interesting to see where it will be taken next. A stronger and more cohesive narrative strand could open the show up to new possibilities and there is definitely scope to take the performance in a variety of different directions. Hopeful Monster are clearly a talented group of puppeteers and performers, who definitely have the ability to entertain the audience and give them something new and original.