Brian The Tiger - Diversions.co.nz'I think Achtem put it best when he said “No matter how big you grow, always make time for play.” So if you have children, make time to see this show and if you don’t, make time anyway...'open/close
Wow! It would be fair to say that I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for when I sat down to watch Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones. I knew there would be shadow puppets but I got a whole lot more than I bargained for. Jeff Achtem of Bunk Puppets presents this fantastically indulgent show that kept the audience of children and adults in a jaw dropped sense of wonderment from start to finish.
The show runs until Saturday 3rd of May at the Herald Theatre and is surely the best show for the entire family to see these holidays.
Set with anticipation and the shuffle of excited children, Achtem enters to introduce his fun loving character that is reminiscent of a friendly ‘Sesame Street’ monster. Everyone is immediately drawn to his expressive face and gentle nature. Achtem uses few words, but who needs words when you already have the audience in the palm of your hand? This extremely clever and thoughtful character choice would have been enough alone to tame the unforgiving beast that is the junior audience but this is where the real fun was about to start. With the aid of a single light Achtem expertly creates and performs a series of shadow skits that engage and delight. From brain transplants and ninjas to horse racing and romantic chess games Achtem uses his hands, feet, body and receding hairline to display some truly amazing shadow puppets and outrageously entertaining skits. You get so drawn into the story and shadow characters that’s it’s easy to forget that they are being created by just one man!
As you’d expect, the children squealed and chuckled with delight and sure, maybe I did too but there is something else going on here. Firstly, it’s a show within a show; there is an artist on stage performing some magical puppetry and if you draw your eyes away from the shadows and down to the mechanics of the action, you can watch him work. Achtem skilfully twists and manipulates his body with ease, it’s clear to see he loves what he does and it makes the show all the more watchable. And secondly, there are emotive and thought provoking layers (beyond some of its viewer’s years), that for the more mature audience members are a delight to witness.
Caleb Prince (age 14) - Keepingupwithnz.com'4.5 Stars - This is a must see show for these school holidays. Just go along, let your imagination run wild and enjoy the ride. As Jeff says, no matter how old, or how big you are, there’s always time to play...'open/close
Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones is a shadow puppet show from Montreal, Canada. It’s completely unlike any show you may have seen before. The puppeteer, Jeff Achtem, has created an extraordinary experience for the whole family to spend, transfixed by his magical world.
Jeff’s puppets are constructed from random junk placed on stage. When first looking at the puppets, they certainly don’t look attractive or professional. But once that spotlight turns on and the lights go out, the wonder really begins. You find yourself forgetting to look at Jeff, simply mesmerised by quirky characters dancing on the wall.
Jeff and his puppets work together in harmony, creating illusions on the backdrop. The show is extremely humorous and contains laughs for children and adults alike, leaving you holding your sides from the hilarity. The show incorporates the audience into the fun as well, bringing people onto the stage, or getting the audience to chant, applaud and yell along with him and his puppets.
This is a must see show for these school holidays. Just go along, let your imagination run wild and enjoy the ride. As Jeff says, no matter how old, or how big you are, there’s always time to play.
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Jesse Pilcher (age 13) - Diversion.co.nz'The play gave my teenage mind just what it needed. Laughs. Lots of laughs and wonder. All the way from Canada, Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones sticks is a delight for adults and kids alike. It is truly a show of art that entertains. Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones kept me (13) and my two brothers (7 and 10) truly gasping with amazement. Mum thought it was incredible as well. Go see it...'open/close
Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones is a funny and interesting shadow puppet show and being completely honest I thought that it was not going to be either of those things. Instead I was surprised by its spontaneous vibe and quirky sense of humour.
The play gave my teenage mind just what it needed. Laughs. Lots of laughs and wonder. All the way from Canada, Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones sticks is a delight for adults and kids alike. It is truly a show of art that entertains.
It takes a certain skill to turn simple things like a balloon and a clown wig into a shadow puppet that looks spectacular when put to use. There are many acts all of them hilarious from an old evil man cutting open a head and examining what’s inside to a old couple playing chess, to a horse riding a man. Puppeteer Jeff Achtem never fails to delight and I highly recommend it to anyone with some spare time.
Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones kept me (13) and my two brothers (7 and 10) truly gasping with amazement. Mum thought it was incredible as well. Go see it.
Matt Baker - Theatrescenes.co.nz'sing a variety of everyday objects, Achtem constructs, right before the audience’s very eyes, the characters that will inhabit the scene to follow. The enjoyment comes from not only seeing how he creates these various characters, but how he manipulates them throughout the scene for comic effect, as Achtem is completely visible during the entire show...'open/close
Jeff Achtem’s multi Edinburgh-award-nominated show Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones can be located in both the Comedy For Kids and Comedy Festival Special Events categories of the Comedy Festival website, and rightly so, as the Montreal master of shadow puppets has compiled a series of simple scenes through truly unique tactics.
Using a variety of everyday objects, Achtem constructs, right before the audience’s very eyes, the characters that will inhabit the scene to follow. The enjoyment comes from not only seeing how he creates these various characters, but how he manipulates them throughout the scene for comic effect, as Achtem is completely visible during the entire show.
Achtem also provides his own soundtrack, with hums, buzzes, clicks, and whistles, as well as the odd one-liner for the adults in the audience.
SSBB is one of three shows from Bunk Puppets, and one of two that doesn’t seem have a narrative. Considering he also holds workshops during his tours, it therefore seems that Achtem’s objective is not necessarily story-telling, but teaching children (and re-teaching adults) how to play – or, more specifically, how to use their imagination. There is even a childlike lilt in his voice in his finale address to the audience about his workshops. It’s just a shame that they were only on for 2 days of the festival.
Nik Smythe - Theatreview.org.nz'In any (and every) case, audible gasps ensue when the jumbled clumps of bric-a-brac are backlit to produce another eye-popping living cartoon silhouette on the rough-edged screen. Slick, distinctive vocal characterisations are the icing on the cake...'open/close
Quite simply, there is nothing to not love about this show. From Jeff's doddery, oddball Mr. Bean-meets-Swedish Chef persona, to the surprising and enchanting shadow-plays themselves, the underlying principle (and closing remark) is that no matter how big you get, there is always time to play.
The short scenes are primarily character-based, focussed on the charming, slightly grotesque beings in close-up or midshot, with only one example of a more wide-shot landscape type scenario. Subject matter includes brain surgery, a martial arts death match and a horseriding steeplechase, among others. Whether already familiar or not with the potential delights of shadow puppetry, you will undoubtedly marvel at the degree of ingenuity literally on display.
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I’m always tentative when I go to kids show, and I’m never really sure why after. I’m almost always delighted by what I see, usually much more than the kids are. Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones takes my usual delight and amps it up into rapture. Shadow puppeteer Jeff Achtem takes the most mundane objects, like a pen tied to a shoe or his own hairline and turns them into hilarious sketches that include a horse race, a chess game and in a particularly surreal and dark sketch, a man performing impromptu brain surgery on an unsuspecting bystander.
Throughout, Achtem adopts a Mr. Bean-kind of voice, where he’s speaking English but only barely, and while the semi-mature adult in me initially balks, Achtem is so charming that me and the rest of the audience are won over. It’s hard not to be won over by somebody as talented as Achtem is and who brings spontaneity and verve to a show he’s likely done more times than he can count. When the show ends, and it has a spectacular, transcendent ending, it’s hard not to be in awe of a man who has so clearly mastered his craft and takes such joy in sharing it with others. Unmissable, for both adults and kid.