The Gingerbread Man

Miriam Lambert Puppeteer presents 'The Gingerbread Man.'

Miriam Lambert Puppeteer presents 'The Gingerbread Man.'

Through the imaginative use of simple puppets, Miriam Lambert’s rendition of The Gingerbread Man truly invigorates an age-old tale. The show is introduced by her signature characters, Pick and Boo. These very basic puppets are the forefingers of Lambert’s gloved hands, anthropomorphised only by tufts of fluffy hair on top. Speaking in the international language of gobbledygook, the slapstick comedy of Pick and Boo sets the scene wonderfully for the adventures of the mischievous Gingerbread Man.

Throughout the story of the runaway cookie, Ronan Tully’s music added ambiance and anticipation. Its cyclical arrangement complemented perfectly a tale that relies on repetition for its effect. Lambert became a comic-looking humanette of the story’s old woman who bakes the biscuit. Accordion music typically associated with French cafés aptly accompanied the moments of the gingerbread man’s inception, subtly evoking images of delicious pastries, thus enhancing the woman’s mouth-watering list of ingredients.

The animals that the Gingerbread Man meets along his way were brought to life by colourful puppets that were very basic in construction. Lambert herself was visible throughout the production, as well as her manipulation and voicing of the characters. However, the effervescent energy of her puppetry allowed the audience to suspend disbelief and to forget that she was there.

Funny and engaging throughout, one of the production’s most humorous moments occurred when the gingerbread man dived into the old woman’s laundry basket. Mistaking it for a dress-up box, he emerged wearing a dress with a pair of panties on his head. A hilarious chase ensued with the billy-goat tugging hungrily at the fabric.

Lambert’s own recycling of props in the construction of her puppets is both creative and practical. For example, the old woman’s red cookbook becomes the sly fox’s back. The way that the fox gradually lured the gingerbread man towards his snapping jaws was well-timed to create suspense. But, in a contemporary Irish context, we could perhaps question the political correctness of this devious baddie having what sounded like an eastern European accent.

Many versions of the story omit the potentially upsetting finale in which the Gingerbread Man is tricked by the fox and eaten. Lambert includes this climax, but evades its distressing finality by having the old woman resolve to bake another Gingerbread Man. The audience of 4-8 year olds are left instead with the exciting prospect of the Gingerbread Man’s return and the knowledge that the magic will soon begin again.

Siobhán O’Gorman is currently completing a doctoral research project on gender and the canon in contemporary theatre at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

  • Review
  • Theatre

The Gingerbread Man by Miriam Lambert, adapted from the fairytale

12 – 17 October, 2010

Produced by Miriam Lambert Puppeteer
In Druid Lane Theatre, Galway

Adapted and produced by Puppeteer Miriam Lambert

Music: Ronan Tully

Lighting: Pat O'Reilly

With: Miriam Lambert

Presented as part of Baboró International Arts Festival for Children 2010