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The Emperor and the Tiger

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Went to see Walk the Plank’s The Emperor and the Tiger in Newsham park in Liverpool tonight. It seemed to have drawn a reasonable crowd. I’d thought it might not because I’d only seen the poster at the start of the week but coverage on the front page of the local papers and the regional TV seems to have worked.

I was interested to see how the show was put together. I tend to find that in the last ten years firework displays try to cram more and more wows in to less and less time. While I like a big finale I also like a chance to enjoy some of the individual fireworks so the idea of adding dance, lighting and story telling to fireworks appeals to me.

The first problem with the show was that the very long stage wasn’t high enough. I’m quite tall so I could see some of what was going on but anyone shorter than me was struggling. The length of the stage also created problems because there were times when everything was happening at the far end of the stage and so it was hard to see what was going on. This ment that the opening was underwhelming and so the crowd thinned a bit making seeing what was happening later easier.

Then the story proper began. The two biggest sculptural elements of the show, the Tiger and the Emperor from the title were dramatic and large enough to be easily seen. The story itself could do with a little expansion as an editor for a ladybird early learning version would have sent it back as too short but the basic idea wasn’t bad.

As the production went on the quality of the effects improved. The floodlighting of the trees behind the stage to create different looks with simple colour changes created effective backdrops. Using skytracker/searchlight effects combined with the smoke from fireworks worked well and the later firework effects were effective (including the big finale).

So it turned out to be not a bad show after all. With a bit of work to liven up the opening, a bit of expansion on the story and more thought about sightlines for the audience I’d say it could become an excellent production.

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