The giant mechanical spider stalking through Liverpool city centre, with human operators clinging to its legs and abdomen, ceased to be a vast feat of engineering and simply…lived.
No illusionist has ever pulled off quite such a feat – I completely and voluntarily suspended disbelief and fell under the spell of La Princess.
She was beautiful – moving with weird smoothness, forelegs pawing the air as she came up Water Street on Saturday afternoon to cheers and gasps. There were even some tears, not from small frightened children (I guess they have seen far worse on Dr Who) but from adults moved beyond belief by the spectacle.
I stood on the corner of Castle Street, opposite the Town Hall, and watched one of her operators prankishly maneuver a spider leg to high-five a teenage girl – she was so excited she could barely speak; I was astonished by the precision and grace (and by the girl’s nerve – what if it had misjudged? Emo pate I suspect).
La Princess moves with music; accompanied by musicians she seems to dance her way through packed city streets, following the beat with her forelegs.
As she rounded the corner and set off down Castle Street there was an audible sigh of sadness – and then a general rush of humanity to follow her.
She had some competition – a giant poster of Billie Piper in her scanties (yes, Rose wearing not much… deep breaths chaps!) – but neither the Bad Wolf herself or Liverpool One’s shops just around the corner could compete with a spider that danced, sprayed water over the crowds, brought her own travelling orchestra and, to cap it all, was at the centre of a huge smoke show.
The spider in the smoke was simply breathtaking – the silhouette of her limbs and abdomen was all that was visible and it truly looked as though a vast arachnid from a distant past (or perhaps a far future?) had come to Liverpool.
Words and photos don’t really convey the magic of La Princess; I can understand now why the company behind her, La Machine, has an international following – groupies who travel across the world to see their shows.
For me, nothing else Culture Year has to offer can top a giant spider bathing in Salthouse Dock, dancing outside the Town Hall or climbing Concourse House.
La Princess – c’est magnifique.