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Infectious happiness

A lust for life flows out of the soon to be 100 years old Victoria in Meridiano Theatre’s “All the Time in the World”, which is a delightful combination of a wonderful puppet show full of beautiful images and a simple as well as a witty text full of interest, amusement, and finesse.

Afterwards - outside of the auditorium - the world appears completely different and yet, along with a theatre packed audience, I have just been so close to that which is so important in life: the ability to be able to live in the moment - intensely, reflectively and openly as far as change is concerned.

Meridiano Theatre’s “All the Time in the World” makes one euphoric. The show, which comes after “Genesis” and “Anima” as part of the company’s puppet trilogy, brings its audience close to life’s essentials; and one doesn’t feel that so often, so it is definitely worth celebrating.

Celebrating life’s every moment is exactly what “All the Time in the World” is about. This is cleverly done via birthday preparations for Victoria who, tomorrow, will be 100 years old!

In the multi artistically talented Giacomo Ravicchio’s ingenious and filmic visual theatrical universe, the air is filled with magic right from the very moment when Victoria, sitting in her armchair in her living room, begins to move. Lars Begtrup and Elise Müller slip their hands into the arms of Victoria’s light brown cardigan - and hey presto, as if by a wave of a wand, there is magic. The one-hand writes a list of everything Victoria wants to do on her birthday. The list runs all the way down Victoria’s long dress and across her carpet. The other hand firmly holds the piece of paper.

With the smallest details, Begtrup and Müller blow life into Victoria. Her pen tilts and is heaved away from the list in a tense, pondering break from writing. Victoria lifts her head and looks philosophically forward. She removes her glasses and pushes away her big red cat, Ziga, who has sat down on the roll of paper. Her mouth twitches as the cat jumps up into her lap and tickles her lips. She lifts her index finger, shakes her head and takes a deep breath when the cat, out of Victoria’s field of vision, knocks over various objects. 

An appetite for life and speed on a scooter

Victoria is a puppet: a cardigan, a dress and a mask with grey hair and glasses. But in another reality, which clearly comes to the fore, she is a living person. Numerous expressions spring out of the mask even though it is without plasticity. 

The show portrays Victoria as a woman whose vitality we clearly believe in. Victoria is a vigorous philosopher who enjoys life. We experience this through puppetry and in all the things that Victoria takes an interest in - and these are many. Delighted by speed, she whizzes off on her smart, old scooter; bakes cakes; tidies up; buys new shoes and a flaming red birthday dress; she takes photos of herself with a digital camera and shows us her old photographs both from an old photo album and on her laptop. 

In the photo session, Elsie Müller, who apart from being a puppeteer is also the show’s storyteller, dishes up, with a wonderful tranquility in her body and a warm, clear voice, the show’s first verbal pearl: “If one doesn’t want to become old, one must take an interest in everything that is new.”  

We see that Victoria remains young inside because she follows exactly that important piece of philosophy. And we sense that vitality for life is about the right attitude and perspective.

Victoria is amazed and delighted by the progress in photo-technology. We follow her in a lovely, humoristic sequence of self-portraits. We see and hear how an old fashioned camera fills several shoe boxes and sends out a spurt of flames. We see the photos which she holds in her lap appear on the wall behind her: Victoria as a child on a sledge and with her wooden go-cart; Victoria as an adventurous young woman in the ambulance service and descending by parachute. 

We are presented with a witty production, which never appears heavy or contrived because it understands the art of simplicity on the verbal level and because a great deal is presented in a wonderful combination of puppetry and filmic images. “All the Time in the World” is a true visual delight.

Filmic and ingenious

Curtains roll up and the backstage wall, which is divided into squares, creates a frame for the live-action as well for film sequences and photographs. Little, happy episodes from Victoria’s life are elegantly and with humoristic sensibility mixed together with the live on-stage action. A little puppet show, where we see Victoria by the side of the small tree her father planted when she was born, transforms into a full-screen live-action sequence, where the much older Victoria stands by her (life)tree’s thick trunk. 

Through the magic of theatre the show communicates the wisdom, which keeps Victoria so vitally alive, namely, “If one wants to understand something better, one must look at it in another way.”

One refined touch, which comes to visual expression, is in a scene where Victoria, as a child, becomes lost in the forest. In three pictures, set side by side, we see the forest from different perspectives. In this very same scene, we hear that it was on this very day, when she felt most scared, that Victoria decided she would live a life full of adventures. 

In a puppet scene, flour starts to fall down when Victoria begins to bake and is transformed, in a filmic image, into the childhood snow, which, for Victoria, means happiness. Later, when she is 100, the white corns of happiness fall down at the back of the stage in the garden, which she has decorated with colourful lanterns and nimbly warmed up with a little dance.

Soon, guests will arrive - and no wonder. Undaunted and in huge measure, Victoria casts happiness all around her. And what she doesn’t manage to do today, she does another day, for as she says, “I have all the time in the world.”

Børneteateravisen maj 2012) 

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