Space Hippo – Weird and Silly in the Good Way

Weird! Silly! Only at the Fringe are these high compliments. Add in a couple of hundred shadow puppets, an environmental message, a multiracial performance team and you've got Space Hippo.

The show was sold-out and the entire audience seemed to love it.  I'm a fan of Mind of a Snail local shadow puppet troupe and I'll bet they and their other fans love this show. Shadow-puppet-love was visceral and audible. Endorphins were just all over the place. Go and soak up the good cheer.

The creators and performers are Daniel Wishes and Seri Yanai and they are, well, adorable. And talented. And professional. They move it along deftly both verbally and with the handling of the 200-plus handcut shadow puppets.

It's a whole sensory experience.  I got a front-row seat and enjoyed the dual experience of being able to see the puppets quite close as well as their projections on the screen. The Waterfront Theatre is such that you'll have a good seat wherever you sit.

Here's a bit of the story line: We are in the future and we are all dead. The characters thank us for that.

As an explanation of the premise, we're shown how a scientist puppet tried to convince a politician puppet that the end of the world is only five years away. All the politician is thinking, however, is “four more years.”

Politicians being what they are (sometimes) this one decides that sending a hippo into space will gain votes. (Go figure. There are probably more outlandish campaign promises.) Hippos have to eat, hence a Food Robot. And aliens have to worship, so hence our hippo becomes a deity. And well, there's lots more, but it doesn't translate so well to mere words.

Mochinosha, the Wishes Mystical Puppet Company ( is an international puppet theatre company based in Japan and Canada. “Wishes” is a great name for a theatre company that includes the magical. With a last name like that, Daniel would have had to grow up to be something interesting.  I tried unsuccessfully to find out the meaning of Mochinosha. I'll post a comment after my deadline if I find out. Or you can.

The musical score by Elliott Loran definitely adds to the enchantment quotient. As an aside,

Elliott's pretty stoked about this. His Facebook post starts with multiple exclamation marks!!!! (“I just released my first album EVER!!!!”) He responded within minutes of my request as to where to purchase said music. Go here:  $15 at the site but you can purchase download access for only $10 from Seri at the end of the show.

The postcard proclaims a 5-star review from the CBC – and your humble Plank reviewer agrees.

It's feel good without being stupid (“stupid” being entirely different from “silly” in this case)!

By Mary Bennett