A compact programme of Purcell, Britten and a modern piece by Jonathan Dove is a smart choice for the puppet and opera company Third Hand. Six pieces of Purcell bookend the performance and charts the courting of the initially standoffish eagle, singing “Oh Solitude” and the rather more open and eager unicorn, joining him for a duet of “Resistance is but vain”. The singers, together with the puppeteers helps to manipulate the puppets which adds the a sense of narrative to what will otherwise be a recital. The charm of the eagle and the unicorn and their rapidly developing relationship is endearing and even comical. A perfect illustration of the strength of this opera company.
“The Canticle II (Abraham and Isaac)” by Britten and eight songs by Jonathan Dove provides the more sombre tone to the set. The action of “The Canticle” is transferred to the the first world war where the son in the battlefield is having a conversation with his father, fitting for commemoration Sunday. This was lyrical, tugging at the heartstrings with a simple staging of a trough of soil as trenches and the puppet son. And finally, the modern piece by Dove is adapted as a film noir killing and bloodshed. It largely works but for the scene change between each song. All in all light, well sung performance that is thoughtful and well executed.