Vagabonding – review
Catch roving puppeteers Gary Bridgens and Phil Gregg on their self-funded outdoor tour of Cumbria – weather and wasps permitting, says Clare Brennan
Sunday, 08 May 2011
"Augmenters of anecdotes" – if any there be who read this page – beware of calling on your mother for corroboration of exaggeration. Gary Bridgens, one of a pair of "peripatetic performers of the road", temporarily stationed beside Bardsea's Malt Kiln, concluded a pretty string-puppet presentation of the story told him by a neighbour of how she, a crane driver, met the man who would become her husband – also a crane driver: "And they had 17 children! Didn't they, mam?" A stern voice replied: "No, they did not!" Bridgens blushed beneath his grizzly beard and carried on. Carrying on is what this entertaining outdoor show is all about. Brigdens, with Phil Gregg (both of Headzup Theatre) and a crocodile-skin-covered cart called Dolly (after D'Oyly, I suppose) are travelling through the Lake District and south Cumbria, following the footsteps of 1930s showman Walter Wilkinson by converting the cart to a puppet booth and earning their living by singing songs and telling stories (they started their 17-day adventure with just £10 apiece). Weather – and wasps – permitting, they've got the chutzpah to pull it off.