Review: The Castle Builder – Celebrating Outsider Artists Everywhere


16th May 2016

Image: Jack Offord

Image: Jack Offord

If anyone would have suggested I’d enjoy spending an hour of my evening watching two 40 something year old men jumping about in DIY costumes, singing punk rock tunes created on children’s toys while sculpting with chewed bread, I would have responded that they didn’t know me at all, and promptly would have walked away in the opposite direction. Thankfully, I didn’t know what to expect going in to see The Castle Builder at the Trinity Centre on Saturday. Unfamiliar with its creators, Kid Carpet and Vic Llewellyn, I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of the first few minutes of the show, but they soon won me over.

The Castle Builder was a conglomerate of performance, storytelling, music and documentary all wrapped up with a bright Mayfest bow. What seemed to begin with chaotic nonsense soon revealed itself to be a beautiful tribute to creators everywhere. With a little help from his son who joined him on stage in a technical capacity, Vic intertwined personal anecdotes with tales of people from around the world and throughout history who have dedicated their lives to the building of extravagant, extraordinary structures. Not looking for fame or money, the individuals featured in The Castle Builder are outsider artists who have created from a pure desire of expression. Often laughed at, frowned upon and remembered by few, individuals such as Tressa Prisbrey (Bottle Village – United States, 1956), Ferdinando Cheval (The Palace – France, 1879) and Karl Genzel (Bread Sculptures – Germany, 1923) were celebrated for the creatives they were. Possibly not people you’d trust with your baby, but visionaries all the same and Kid Carpet’s original songs are odes to each and every one of them. Simple, heartfelt and childlike, the soundtrack points to the absurd beauty of these creative minds.

Throughout the performance,  a fourth man on stage worked at building a structure he revealed to the audience during the final song. Live art is always a plus, and it was a very creative and fitting end to the show, along with the surprise moment when Vic’s son came out from behind his laptop duties playing the trumpet as the audience joined in the chorus. Musically, it was a powerful crescendo for the cast of four to leave the stage by.

Funny, educational and most importantly, inspiring, The Castle Builder achieved more than simply entertainment – it asked big questions about the human spirit and encouraged us all to let go of the fear that keeps us from doing the extraordinary. 

Esther Hall