“Taller than a house, the Iron Man stood at the top of the cliff, on the very brink, in the darkness.”
Ted Hughes’s “The Iron Man” is a great classic for good many reasons. While written in 1968, its message of friendship, tolerance and co-operation resonates today more than ever.
The Iron Man having eaten all the tractors, old cars and fences made out of metal he could find in the country-side, the local farmers are angry and try to trap him to make him disappear, but without success. So they threaten to call in the army for its definitive destruction. A young boy, however, kinder and wiser, accepts the Iron Man for who he is and establishes an alliance with him, therefore obtaining his assistance.
The stage adaptation is together inventive and poetic, playing on the range of sizes between the minuscule and the gigantic, applied to different decors and Iron Men made of different materials. The world of the Iron Man is recreated using beautifully crafted puppets of the characters, birds and foxes; part-cut silhouettes; and stop-motion animation of delicate black and white water-colour.
The sound of the sea, industrial and experimental music provides the music background to add to the haunting atmosphere of the show, which presents many moments of pure wonder and intensity to a captivating audience: the methodical reconstruction of the collapsed gigantic Iron Man; the illuminated patrolling of the farmers’ trucks in the night; the luscious and colourful constituents of the family picnic; the scrap yard whose lightning makes it resemble the most contemplative sculpture garden; the frenetic dance of the threatening space dragon…
Will the young boy and the Iron Man help defeating the blood-thirsty monster so that our lovely earth can remain a part of a heaven of moon and stars? Well, it is up to them, but it depends on us as well, doesn’t it?