Walking With Giants

Back in April 2012, to commemorate the tragedy of HMS Titanic, the French street theatre company Royal De Luxe created a magnificently moving, giant Marionettes performance around the streets of Liverpool.

The spectacle transfixed the city with the public falling in love with the giant puppets. The story, based on a little girl who lost her father in the tragedy was told over three days. Her Uncle, a deep-sea diver, had found a letter from her which she had written to her father but it had arrived too late so he went in search to break the news of her father’s sad fate and return the letter.

So last weekend, once again, Liverpool hosted the giant spectacular, only this year the event was part of the commemorations for the outbreak of World War I.

LION Trackhire’s Mark Tennant spent the weekend in Liverpool and told us of his experience.

“I was aware that LION had been involved in 2012, providing access solutions for crane pads and performance areas in the show’s locations, so when I heard we had been invited again to help in this year’s even bigger event, I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about.

We arrived amongst thousands of spectators in Newsham Park, just in time to see the Giants performance. They were all sound asleep on a huge enclosure of our trakway where they awoke before beginning their journey around the city.

The Giants were controlled by hundreds of ‘Lilliputians’ who would balance above the puppets at 40 feet in the air or swing from ropes to the ground in perfect co-ordination, raising a giant knee to make the puppets walk. In sweltering heat and wearing red velvet coats throughout the day, these puppeteer’s ‘workouts’ brought the giants to life as the crowds looked on in awe at the lifelike actions of these wood and metal puppets.

My daughter and I sat at the edge of the trakway, completely mesmerised as the little girl’s dog, Xolo woke Grandma and the little girl. Grandma was given her morning whisky and a giant pipe which she puffed as she glided around the trakway compound in her Victorian wheelchair. Meanwhile the little girl was showering when mischievous Xolo ran off with her sock as he was chased and scolded by one of the Lilliputians. Across the trakway, the dogs metal claws griped the surface as he raced ahead but then stopped dead to cock a leg and relieve himself, much to my daughter’s amusement!

The Giants then stepped from the compound and headed for town, strolling through key areas of the city where the streets were lined with onlookers in the hundreds of thousands. After a number of humorous and moving performances by the puppets, they eventually concluded the weekend at the docks. There, they were assisted into a boat by three giant cranes that were positioned on the ancient, cobbled dockside which we protected with cushioning substrates under our own trakway.

The Giants then bid us farewell and sailed away up the Mersey to the open sea, leaving a lasting and poignant impression on me and the thousands of visitors who had witnessed the amazing spectacle. I hope one day they'll return, I felt very proud to be a LION and supporting this inspirational event and as if it couldn't get any better, I read the next day that the regional economy was estimated to generate well in advance of £30m in revenue so a massive success all-round. Congratulations to Liverpool City Council and of course to Royal De Luxe, their street band and their inspirational genius, Jean-Luc Courcoult for creating the show......so finally, if Giants can walk with no trip hazards on our trakway, anyone can!”