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Les Antliaclastes: Ambergris


A person dressed as an insect, wearing a suit and holding a cane, stands in front of a large perfume cabinet.

Lose yourself in an entrancing, shocking and spooky world of puppet theatre in a mesmerising UK premiere about the twists and turns of life.

Ambergris is a strikingly visual retelling of the story of Pinocchio inside the belly of a whale. Set inside a giant perfume cabinet, which is part ribcage, part musical organ, a cunning perfumer dissects a lump of ambergris, a rare ingredient used in perfume-making found in the intestines of a sperm whale.  

Told through a unique blend of puppetry, along with masks, machines and music. Watch as the perfumer distils their perfect scent, and unbottles the very essence of being from some of literature’s most life-changing journeys.  

French company Les Antliaclastes return to the Barbican following Waltz of the Hommelettes in 2019. Under the direction of Patrick Sims, they make extraordinary wordless performances which contain countless surprises.  

Running time: 55 minutes, no interval

This production contains haze smoke effects and small explosions.

Age guidance: 8+

Post-show talk (BSL-interpreted)
Thu 25 Jan

Hosted by Joseph Seelig and BSL-interpreted by Anna Kitson. Free to same-day ticket holders.

Members event: Puppets in Theatre – Bringing New Life to theStage
Tue 13 Feb

Discover more about the imaginative art of puppetry at this MimeLondon in-conversation event with Basil Twist and Phelim McDermott, facilitated by Cheryl Henson. Free for Members. 

Presented by the Barbican in association with MimeLondon.

Co-produced by TJP de Strasbourg / CDN – Mini Théâtre de Payerne and Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes de Charleville.

Supported by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni.

Images by Jeff Lefranc.


‘Wonderful... a crossroads of tales and myths, composed from various techniques‘
SceneWeb (France)
‘Bewitching… darkly comic and absurdly charming… Les Antliaclastes are not just puppeteers but magicians‘
Guardian on Waltz of the Hommelettes


MimeLondon 2024

Four astonishing international companies showcase remarkable productions that embrace the unspoken through extraordinary visual performance.

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