Review: Butterfly @ [email protected] Infirmary Street

Moyan Brenn, Edinburgh Festival / CC
Photograph: Moyan Brenn / CC

Verdict: Highly Recommended Show

Genre: Physical Theatre

Venue: Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Website: Butterfly

Ramesh Meyyapan


‘A striking adaptation of Madame Butterfly, exploring themes of love, loss and hope. Told without words, this haunting piece uses visually poetic narrative, handcrafted puppets (by Gavin Glover, National Theatre of Scotland’s A Christmas Carol) and a beautiful score (by David Paul Jones) to tell the tale of Butterfly, a kitemaker.’


The butterflies and kites serve as a visual representation of freedom and their diminishing appearances as the story progresses shows the suppression of it.

The butterflies that are captured and pinned as decoration echo the situation of the free spirited kite maker herself, who becomes pinned by the ultimately jealous and violent love between her and the butterfly collector. The change from a kite filled set to one dominated by captured butterflies shows her devotion to him and how he is consuming her life, the visual of the jars of the imprisoned creatures creates powerful imagery and serves as a reminder on how important it is to retain ourselves regardless of those around us.

Body language and expressions are used to full effect with each movement being deliberate and serving only to push the performance which leaves no room for confusion as the story ordering tetracycline unfolds. The set is designed for ease and to aid the flow of the piece, and as with the movements, each prop is used only to further the narrative. The cast use the props with such precision they appear as an extension of themselves, creating a deeper visual experience. Nicola Daley playing the kitemaker is especially good at this. 

The puppetry, by Gavin Glover, is incredible both in its design and its manipulation. It feels so real it is impossible not to care for the silent puppet character and become invested in the relationship between the child puppet and mother. The nightmarish projection onto one of the kites that make up part of the set is brilliantly executed and adds another element into an already diverse performance. Lighting is used to great effect and the music, composed by David Paul Jones, adds a lot to the atmosphere and is almost a character in itself as it flows with the narrative and the movements of the cast.

All of these elements entwine with ease to create a mesmerising show that elicits genuine emotion and draws the audience into a visually stunning and incredibly evocative world.

This review originally appeared on FringeReview and is reproduced in partnership with their permission.


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Christine Lawler 42 Articles
Christine has a passion for literature and has been a closeted writer since childhood. Other passions include theatre, film, and all things geeky. She lives in Glasgow with a cat named Molls and a tortoise named Haruki Kabuki.

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