Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Highly regarded and accomplished puppeteers perform a tripartite piece of high quality theatre but that promises more than it delivers. The puppet at the beginning is controlled by three puppeteers and has been on the table for 40 years. About to perform for us he is interrupted constantly by a woman who ignores him but manages to completely throw him off his stride. We then have three mini theatres created and a fast paced set of puppeteering involving heads and other paraphernalia that demonstrate the basics are well within their grasp. Finally we have a story out a briefcase which involves a hand drawn story that was reasonably entertaining.
The structure of the piece had the beginning as its headline act with what followed an additional side show that was equally as impressive if not as equally inventive. The puppetry was of a standard that befits a company who have worked with some of the best in the business but the problem with hitting heights is that people can expect much more. The work on the Table was, I felt the best of the evening and somewhat spoilt by what came after. The understanding of theatricality – how to build a set in front of your eyes was nicely done but I hankered after a heck of a lot more to accompany the work on the table.
The production kept the almost full house thoroughly entertained and it was widely appreciated by those who attended. Puppetry late night drawing the crowds – respect! This had puppetry out of the land of Fairy tales and clearly into the arena of theatre. The whizzing of the middle section along with the theatricality of getting an audience to appreciate hand drawn A4 sheets of paper coming out of a briefcase in order to tell the filmic story was inspired in the way in which it kept the audience engaged but I was not that enthralled by the storyline!
The major feeling with which I left was one of genuine appreciation and admiration for the performers mixed with a sense of being slightly short changed. I liked it and was entertained but saw glimpses of what this clearly able group of puppeteers are capable. The first section which was like Godot had finally arrived and needed to be entertained but the woman was not able to see the importance of getting out the way, was great. It had pathos, an introduction to the art of three handed puppeteering as well as the use of the table in highly creative an inspiring ways. The section with the woman screaming was simply fantastic.
The middle section started promisingly with the building of the three booths and I was truly hopeful of something. Truth is I had seen much of this before and the good will of the first part was carried through the second. It dropped off for me in the last piece where the simplicity of hand drawn sheets telling the story was of more interest to those around me than I.
The piece was condemned by the word potential as I could see how these puppeteers are highly skilled but wanted to see much more of the complex work rather than the simple pieces. It would be churlish though to award a mere 3 stars as this is a show you will go to, be thoroughly entertained and enthuse about. It didn’t hit those heights for me but never did less than request to be highly recommended.