2 October, 2017 //

Puppet Love

Shakespeare’s great erotic poem tells the story of Venus’ obsession with the handsome Adonis. This narrative poem was Shakespeare’s first bestseller, weaving together comedy, tragedy and beautiful poetry to tell the raunchy story of Venus and her obsession with handsome Adonis. This version of Venus & Adonis was originally performed in 2004. Created in collaboration with Little Angel Theatre, it was described as ‘witty, erotic and ingenious’ (Guardian).

Our artistic director Michael-Barker Caven spoke with Artistic Director Gregory Doran and asked him, why this particular piece and why tell it through puppetry?

I asked Greg why – with all of Shakespeare’s famous plays to choose from – the idea of staging one of his two long poems (Venus & Adonis) so caught his imagination…

“I hadn’t read the work before” he said, “and so when I eventually did I was immediately struck by its unique brilliance, its humor and the strange power of the tragic sting in its tail. I knew I wanted to stage it but how was the question? The world of the poem was so wondrous and heightened that I needed to find a way of bringing this to theatrical life. It was whilst on tour with Macbeth in Japan that I had the opportunity to witness Bunraku puppetry, a majestic tradition that gives equal weight to music, recitation and puppetry, and it struck me this would be a perfect way to serve the work. Back in London I found myself peering in the window of the Little Angel Theatre and delighting at the scale and detail of the puppets there. I began a conversation with Steve Tiplady and his team and we tried out a number of styles including table top puppets but eventually settled on the large, one third ratio mannequins that now populate the final production.”

Greg clearly loves his puppet characters, and delights in the range of attributes the different designs bring to the stage…

“Venus herself is delicious; made of foam, she is lush and airy and dressed with leather whilst the handsome Adonis is more earth bound and deliberately wooden. The horses always catch the audience’s imagination and the shadow play pieces are fantastic, but I also relish the appearance of death, a big carnival puppet which we hide in the proscenium arch stage and who makes a fateful appearance as Venus envisions what might become of her lover if he does not obey her entreaties. We’ve also included a terrific hare this time out. So there’s a whole gallery of puppet stars to marvel at.”

Having seen the temptress Venus in action today during rehearsal, we were transfixed. Join us this week for some puppet love here at the Civic!


Venus & Adonis

Created in collaboration with Little Angel Theatre, the home of British puppetry

By the Royal Shakespeare Company in association with Little Angel Theatre, UK

Presented by Civic Theatre in association with Dublin Theatre Festival.

Tuesday 3rd – Saturday 7th October, 8pm
Tickets €10 – €25