Classic tale is brought to life for finale of Islington puppet show

A heart-warming and magical tale inspired by a famous short story will be brought to life with more than 100 puppets for a spectacular end to the Little Angel Theatre’s 50th anniversary year.

The play – A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings – is based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 1955 parable and started its 10-week festive run at the venue in Dagmar Passage, Islington – widely regarded as the home of British puppetry – on Saturday.

General manager Lynette Shanbury said the team had “pushed the boat out” to end the theatre’s golden anniversary year with one of its most spectacular and stunning productions to date.

“It is very magical, but we shy away from the pantomime stuff that some expect this time of year,” she said.

“We have never really been keen to go down that road but it is extremely beautiful and has the right kind of feel. It is visually stunning.”

The show – which has been nearly a year in the making – is the result of a collaboration with Mike Shepherd of Kneehigh Theatre who directs alongside a creative team including Little Angel’s founding family, Lyndie, Sarah and Joe Wright.

Aimed at children aged six upwards and adults, it tells the story of an old man who crashes to earth in the yard of peasants who fear he might be an angel to take away their sick child.

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The family imprison him and, through charging admission to view him, become wealthy and well-known in their village.

When he manages to fly away, all sorts of questions are left behind.

Lynette said: “We’ve taken the story and gone our own way with it.

“It’s about an old man who falls to earth and the affect he has on the village he lands in, particularly the relationship he has with an ill young boy he helps.

“It has themes of the value of family and friendship and of people being too greedy with money and the impact that has on people.”

She added: “It is so exciting having Mike come in from another fantastic theatrical company with new ideas and ways of working.”

Mike said: “Over the past few weeks I have watched a wonderful and idiosyncratic community of puppets emerge from the timeless magic of the Little Angel workshop; it’s a privilege to be asked to make a show with such detailed and charming creations.”

* A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings runs until January 29. For children aged two to five, the theatre is also staging their own version of Goldilocks over the festive period. Performance times and dates are available at or by calling 020 7226 1787.