Heads up: Crow

From a war horse to a crow man ... what Handspring did next

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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about? A new theatrical version of Ted Hughes's poetry collection Crow, part of the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF) and London 2012.

Elevator pitch Poetry in motion: Hughes's crow (Hand) springs to life.

Prime movers Handspring Puppet Company, which was responsible for the international hit War Horse. Playwright/director Matthew Dunster has adapted Hughes's poems, while Mervyn Millar – an associate on War Horse – here directs, with Ben Duke of dance company Lost Dog Dance providing choreography. Running GDIF is Bradley Hemmings, who's pulled off a bit of a coup with Crow, a co-commission with London 2012.

The stars If War Horse is anything to go by, the real stars of the show will be the puppets...

The early buzz Time Out observes: "Handspring [is] yet to truly offer a convincing British follow-up to [its] equine tour de force, but Hughes's malevolent nature poems could be just the ticket." The Telegraph picked it as a top-10 highlight of London 2012, writing that: "The Crow character is the ultimate survivor in an apocalyptic world – part bird, part human, emerging from every ordeal with black humour intact ... In terms of subject matter, this is quite a departure from the warm-hearted War Horse. But Handspring was the home of pioneering, adult-oriented theatre for nearly 30 years before that particular show came along."

Insider knowledge Handspring is a South African company, but Crow is actually the debut performance for a sister branch based in the UK; Millar has said that they want Britain "to be a centre of excellence for people interested in puppetry".

It's great that... Hughes's dark, visceral poems are getting such an imaginative staging – we predict that slightly creepy but extremely expressive puppetry will capture Crow's mythic quality just right.

It's a shame that... while all the rest of the festival is fabulously free, you'll have to stump up the cash for this hot ticket.

Hit potential If you like the best of British poetry or world-class puppetry this is the show for you – but, if we're being honest, a lot of people probably aren't that bothered by either...

The details Crow is at The Borough Hall at Greenwich Dance, London SE10, festival.org, 18 June to 7 July.