When the majority of your audience are wiping away tears as they watch a rag man sing for his lost heart, you know you’re onto a winner.
Performed by folk musical artists Half A String, a cast of puppets, and a gorgeously designed box of worlds, ‘A Heart At Sea’ is an emotional, ingeniously imaginative piece of storytelling. It follows the journey of one unnamed man who goes on a quest to find his own heart, something he tossed into the ocean after the death of his sister. He is accompanied by a bearded sailor and a baby whale on this perilous journey, not to mention gorgeous folk music, which altogether weaves an epic and moving narrative.
The set is something straight out of the world of Harry Potter: meticulously and lovingly crafted, the simple wooden box is unfolded and unhinged to reveal, hidden inside, miniature universes. A salty sea captain’s boat, a sleepy coastal village, the dangerous tundras of the north (complete with mini dry ice machines!), all seem much bigger than they really are as we are drawn into the story. It is simply beautiful, and it does not take much to suspend your disbelief. Sometimes the puppets are just small pieces of fabric on a wire, no bigger than a thumbnail, an entire boat is just a matchbox, but we believe in them wholeheartedly.
‘A Heart At Sea’ shows the power of world-building and the art of story, demonstrating how even the most simple of objects can hold so much power and potential. The music is haunting, the atmosphere is wonderful, and the audience are recruited in helping create the soundscapes themselves as their finger-clicks or bird calls are recorded and integrated into the music by some clever technology. Young or old, this show tugs at heartstrings alike.