Review of “The Golden Goose”, a performance of the State Puppet Theatre – Burgas

“The Golden Goose” based on the Brothers Grimm by Todor Valov
Mihail Tazev
Production team
Director Todor Valov
Scenography Hristina Nedeva
Music by Plamen Mirchev – Mirona
Participants: Alex Anmakhyan, Alexandra Grancharova, Georgi Minkov, Diyan Rusev, Zhenya Georgieva, Nedelina Roselinova, Rumyana Kraleva

One of the three nominations for ICARUS Award, performed at the Sofia Puppet Theater Salon is Todor Valov’s production “The Golden Goose” of the Burgas Puppet Theater, based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name. It was presented on the stage of the Sofia Puppet Theatre on October 14, 2020 and competed for the ICARUS Award with “The Little Matchmaker” by Hans Christian Andersen directed by Anna-Valeria Gostanyan, Theater 199 and “Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi at directed by Todor Valov, Ruse Puppet Theater.

Not long ago, the Brothers Grimm began to gain popularity in our country as authors for adults. Their tales were published as “forbidden” for children, very close to the “horror” genre, which created an even stronger provocation for those working in the field of adult puppetry. But the increasing interest in the “forbidden” does not stop the excitement of practitioners for the children’s fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Such is the fairy tale “The Golden Goose”. Analyzing it, we can find the typical components of the fairy-tale construction – antagonist, protagonist, helpers and other constructs of the fairy-tale scaffolding. The main conflict is between three brothers and justice for good, which always wins. The smallest and the stupidest – Fool turns out to have the biggest heart among his brothers, which wins the king’s daughter.

The increasingly common practice of having an alienation from the action, of having a narrator, is present in the performance. He serves as direct communication with the children in the auditorium and as a conductor of what is happening on the stage – a character outside and inside the fairy tale action. On stage, the actors play with puppets of different sizes depending on the desired perspective of what is happening. The function of the narrator and his assistants separates them from the fairy-tale characters, but nevertheless the action is linear, uninterrupted. Hristina Nedeva’s scenographic solution is a simple construction that serves as a screen, a palace table and a space of the outer forest environment. The music, by Plamen Mirchev – Mirona, complements the acting performance, giving the performance rhythm and dynamics of the action. No definitive directorial concept has been developed, which we can also observe in the other performance of the director Todor Valov – “Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi. It lacks the story line of a fairy tale without a focus on a specific message, be it unconditional kindness, dedication to work or belief in the magical. The story of the little wooden puppet again follows the plot of the fairy tale without the performance deducing a specific message from it. Both shows have a well-constructed and interesting musical score, but what I find lacking in the puppet theater in terms of musical solutions is the lack of live performance in the shows.

It would be interesting to create a new wave aimed at the less familiar fairy tales and their formulaic messages, to which children pay less and less attention. It also depends on their interpretation of the scene. “The Golden Goose” by the Brothers Grimm deals with the theme of goodness, of unprovoked kindness and devotion as a strength of the human spirit. But the main questions is how is this brought up?

Translation is funded by National Culture Fund.