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REVIEW (reprinted from Animations Online magazine - Autumn 2011 edition)

The Frog Prince and Other Peculiar Tales from 'Terry Jones Fairy Tales'
The Lowry, Salford
16 July 2011

Reviewed by George Harris

That trusted old Brothers Grimm story, 'The Frog Prince', is an ideal trigger for the seasoned visual theatre company Dynamic New Animation to get their all-round creative talents firing.

Nearly all the myriad versions of the tale (and it has variants all across Europe and the Far East plus, of course, Disney’s classic animation and the Muppets' unique take) revolve around the notion of a magical transformation – a specialism for the now Anglo-Australian DNA. Anyone who has seen the company’s work will know that they are masters at sparking life into the simplest of everyday objects and transforming them into wonderfully enchanting and engaging characters.

Not surprisingly, then, in their hands and those of the talented performer Liz Fitzgerald Taylor, The Frog Prince gets the full DNA treatment. Masks, shadows, lighting, puppetry, high energy physical performance, plus an original composed soundtrack that fits the eccentric narrative like a glove all make for a show that the youngsters at The Lowry’s Studio lapped up enthusiastically.

Indeed, at its conclusion, the show encourages kids to pitch in with a clever participatory examination of the themes within the show and you know that the whole piece has been a success when there’s a massed clamour for junior philosophy.

Much of the feelgood factor is, quite simply, down to a winning performance from Ms Fitzgerald Taylor. Even though she’s got plenty on her plate with a show that demands theatrical versatility and not a little energy, she cleverly balances the need to assume character and yet remain closely in contact with her young audience.

The show would have benefited, though, from a few more well-chosen breathing spaces, quieter moments to balance the high-octane delivery and allow the narrative to resonate better. There is a beautiful masked scene which performs this important function, but a few others would not have gone amiss.

Still, a lively young audience hardly seemed to care as they all hugely enjoyed this journey of transformation with DNA. The Frog Prince is a crowd pleaser which charmingly wins young hearts and minds.

 

All text and images © Dynamic New Animation 2002