A Beautiful Message Portrayed Through Puppetry: The Lady of the Falls tours NL Arts and Culture Centres
"Memory is a funny thing isn't it? It can frighten you by going away and overwhelm you by flooding back in."- The Lady of the Falls.
Sunday night, the LSPU Hall was filled with a mixture of enthusiastic theatre-goers, to young children, all piling in to see Lady of the Falls, a puppet show written by Tara Manuel, and directed by Michael Waller. The hall was packed, with a sold-out house, and flooded with many families.
Lady of the Falls is a beautiful story, told by “Lady”, the main character, an older woman, who with the help of Raven, uses her memories to recount a story about heroism, strength, and perseverance. Along the way, she discovers the truth behind her involvement in this story. The audience goes through the journey of a young girl (Girl), as she tries her hardest to get back the salmon that the Lady of the Falls has taken from her village through wastage from the villagers. Girl, braving the path she has chosen, makes her way up the falls, with a special feather in her hand, to confront the Lady. On her way we see Girl run into many friends who give her advice on how to keep strong and keep making her way on her journey to reach her goal.
This play uses some of the most elegant, yet simple language, making the audience feel comfortable and relaxed. Manuel found the perfect blend of comedy and drama, by making Raven's character funny and lighthearted, but still showing us the true message of the piece. The dialogue between all characters and the way they speak is very calming and reassuring, which makes it very believable. Louise Gauthier, Adam Brake, and Manuel herself, all do a beautiful job in bringing these puppet characters to life and making the audience forget that we are watching puppeteers physically bring them to life.
A major part of this play is the beautiful set design by Manuel, bringing the audience to a room in an old home that reminds you of your nan’s, featuring an old wood stove, and a rocking chair. On the wall lives a painting of the falls, which is later revealed to be a playing area for the shadow puppets within the show. This set was so warm and inviting, it really helped set the mood for the show. Manuel's use of colour within the set really helped bring the audience to an old room in a house they may have grown up in, or visited many times, bringing out the true Newfoundland cabin style. The technical side of this show, the lighting, and sound, all contribute to this set. Waller, Manuel, and stage manager Sarah White created a beautiful wash of life over this wooden set. One thing to note in particular was the sound levels, which were always super clear, and never confusing to understand.
The story told in this play surrounds memory, and how scary it can be to lose it, and many times in this play, I got very emotional, almost to the point of shedding a tear. I think this is because there are so many aspects of this show that remind you of something in your life. For me, I connected with Girl's story, and the little lessons she learned along her way up to the falls. For others, they could associate the loss of memory with a family member struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
One line in this play that really stood out to me was “you have to be super brave to be alone”. This line, along with so many others, really hit in a special place for me, which is exactly what good writing will do. It will make you hold on to words or phrases you hear, and connect them to personal experiences. This play touches on so many important lessons, and I believe is super important for both young and old audiences to see.
This show will be touring the province with the Arts and Culture Centers, and if it comes to a town near you, I highly encourage you to take your whole family to see this show. This show, timing in at around forty-five minutes, is a perfect way to end a night, and really makes you think about all we have to be grateful for, and how we need to stay strong, even as we go through the scariest of journeys. Will you take up the feather?
Tickets for upcoming shows can be purchased here.