Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Water Puppets and Frogs Legs

One of the traditional highlights of Hanoi is the Water Puppet Theatre. Derived from an ancient rural entertainment performed at harvest time, this involves puppeteers operating behind a screen with a large pool of water in front. Using sticks stretching out under the water, they manipulate puppets of varying sophistication and enact a mixture of fable and old legend.

Although tourism is a relatively new phenomenon here, the Vietnamese are very clued in to the demands of tourists. In order to take photographs or use a video camera and additional ticket must be bought (costing as much as admission, I think). To compensate a paper fan, smelling like recycled toilet paper (which it probably is), is freely available to all as a souvenir. Also, given that so many of the audience will be French, announcements are made in Vietnamese, English and French.

Beginning the show, the musicians and singers, who sit to the left of the stage, perform a few old classics, like 'Yow, Yow, Yow' (actually I may not have that title right there). I was enthralled by a solo played on the Đàn bầu (monochord zither), the sound of which makes the theremin almost defunct (were it not already almost defunct). Soon though we got on to the meat and potatoes of the performance. Things did not start auspiciously. Something resembling a Cabbagepatch doll arose from the water and bobbed around chattering incomprehensively. Once the comedy act was over, however, the following vignettes involving fish, dragons, swimmers, fishermen, kings and phoenixes made a nicely diverting few hours.

Dinner then offered me another opportunity to tick my culinary list; I finally got to have frogs legs! And they were lovely. Naturally like chicken, but very succulent chicken. It's just a pity there is so little meat on them, though I wisely ordered a plate of crab to fill the gap.


Post a Comment

<< Home