When breaking an egg, which is the correct end? On such matters do wars begin, as when the tiny Emperor of Lilliput orders Lemuel Gulliver to lead his Little-Endians into battle against the Big-Endians of Blefuscu. Jonathan Swift's 1725 satire takes many a swipe at the religious wars between Protestants and Catholics of that era.
Wonderland Theatre Company's production, with an ensemble cast of just five talented actors using puppets, models and shadow play, is fast moving, funny and frequently bawdy – as when Gulliver (Nathan Gordon, left) is disgraced for quenching the fire in the Empress's boudoir by peeing on it from his great height. The confines of Smock Alley Theatre make the audience really feel a part of our hero's journey.
Fetched up in Brobdingnag, our former 'Man Mountain' is reduced to a grildig (midget) and becomes the plaything of Glumdalclitch (Roseanne Lynch) – a 'little' girl of some 60 feet in height. The cast are at their physical-comedy best when Gulliver reaches the land of the Yahoo with the sad realisation that he's worryingly similar to these grunting, scratching creatures.
By comparison, the Houyhnhnms are noble and civilised, and Gulliver wishes nothing more than to stay and eat with them, and discuss why lying has no part in their language.
Although written almost 300 years ago, the belief that there are those in power who 'say the thing which is not' still resonates. All credit to director Alice Coghlan for highlighting the horse sense as well as humour in Swift's timeless classic.
Gulliver's Travels runs at Smock Alley until Saturday, before touring to Newbridge and Galway Wonderlandtheatre.com