Monsters and Things

'Monsters and Things' presented by PigNut productions.

'Monsters and Things' presented by PigNut productions.

You can’t argue with a child’s appreciation. A large group of school-going children aged between five and seven years old are PigNut Productions’ audience at the Belltable in Limerick for Monsters and Things. This bunch simply lap up the story of Jacko and his friend Podi who, in true contemporary style, are setting their sights on winning 'The X Factor'.

Jay Ryan, Artistic Director of PigNut and the puppeteer for Jacko, his hapless friend Podi, a wise old wizard and a host of small creatures from mice to snails, enthrals his young audience in fifty minutes of adventure and misadventure. Loud mouthed button-eyed Jacko, the brains and ambition of the outfit, is very put out when woolly-jumpered doleful Podi comes down with a cold, threatening his dream of becoming rich and famous. Coming across a spell book belonging to a mysterious wizard, Jacko, in his efforts to cure his friend, inadvertently turns him into a scary monster and a series of small creatures all of whom the children agree sing better than himself.

The show is a clever blend of pantomimic farce, puppetry and storytelling wonderfully pitched to engage the children’s imagination and draw them into the plot. Intimately seated on the stage floor in front of an old fashioned tall Punch and Judy style puppet box gives the children that sense of co-creation and involvement. Manipulation of the puppets is jauntily executed by Ryan and each of his characters’ voices is distinctly animated. It’s a beautiful mix of old fashioned rod puppetry grafted onto a modern story about 'X Factor' fame and fortune. Squeals of laughter emanating from the stage leave us in no doubt but that the children totally get the sparkling wit in the narrative.

There is no more candid an audience than an audience of children; not for them to politely wait to criticise outside the auditorium. In this show, they give a thumbs up all the way through, engaging in the suspense and shouting with gleeful joy to instruct and warn the puppets.

Breda Shannon is a freelance writer and reviews books for The Irish Examiner.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Monsters and Things by Jay Ryan

On tour

Produced by PigNut Productions
In Belltable, Limerick

Director and Puppeteer: Jay Ryan