These were not puppets or a show for children- of the few hundred people that were fortunate enough to see the show only a handful were under the age of 15. Classifying this is a puppet show is not entirely correct, it was more like a Broadway show with puppets, backed by amazing singing and dramatic music.
The show lasted close to 5 hours and was held in a small open air theater- fortunately it was in a courtyard and mostly shaded and there were a number of fans to move some air around. It was hot as the show began at 12:45.
A non-profit group runs the show, lead by a man that has worked to design and restore puppets and other artwork. The puppets are amazing and take a tremendous amount of time and effort to create; this show has been in development for over 20 years due to the time it takes to make the puppets and theater.
One look at the puppets and the time to create one puppet is easily understood. The puppets are each approximately two feet tall with hands and fingers that move, heads that turn and mouths that open and close. The costumes and accessories for the puppets are incredibly detailed- swords, hats, facial hair, helmets, shields, flowing gowns and much more. How many puppets are in the show? I would guess over 200 at this time and they continue to add more.
The story is a wonderful, a good history lesson about a battle between Thailand and Burma. While the puppets are the focal point of the show, the music is traditional Thai and is outstanding. The actors that operate the puppets are great; they are part mime, part actor and move as if they are taking part in a ballet. In fact, the actors are so good you forget about them and watch the puppets.
Much better pictures of the puppets and backdrop can be found here: http://chakrabhand.org/website/puppet.php?lang=en
The food at the show was outstanding. One thing I am learning about Thai people that helps explain why Thai food is outstanding- they LOVE to eat! We were fed three times during the show- all food is included with the cost of the ticket. The doors open at 11:45 and food is served buffet style- just find something you want to eat and go to it. The food is from a variety of different restaurants; they donate the food on behalf of the foundation. What this means, the food is all outstanding as many of the people attending the show will visit a restaurant that served food they enjoyed.
Chicken, beef, soup, noodles, bananas wrapped in sticky rice, fried coconut cakes and much more.
Food is served during the intermission and then after the show has concluded- a great way to end a wonderful (and cultural) afternoon.