Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2015


Smoking Apples and Dogfish

Genre: Physical Theatre, Puppetry, Theatre

Venue: Underbelly


Low Down

Ted receives important news that will change his life. Ted is a puppet and he discovers that he has Motor Neurone Disease. This story is sensitively told through puppetry and physical acting – without any words – enthralling theatre.


Ted is a sweet fellow who lives by himself enjoying his time, after a while he has a pet, a goldfish. One day he receives some news that will change his life. So off he goes on his travels to visit foreign lands, with his pet goldfish, of course.

In this play Ted is a puppet and he discovers that he has Motor Neurone Disease. Agile at first, his movement becomes limited during the course of the play, so he relies on his puppeteers to help him. In fact, they bring Ted to life so sensitively that they are part of his daily life in more ways than one. Ted is endearing and the puppeteers give him a subtle tilt of his head and life like movement when he gestures and walks. One puppeteer also make sounds that give Ted authentic reactions.

Ted is manipulated by three puppeteers dressed in black, in full view of the audience in Bunraku puppetry style, where the main puppeteer works the head and left arm, another puppeteer moves the right arm and another the feet. At between 3 and ­ 4 feet tall, Ted is made out of soft white canvas, with a moulded head and wears spectacles. His facial expression is fixed but takes on different reactions depending on the light and shadows ­and his silhouette has a human look that is fascinating. Cleverly designed shadow puppets also propel the story forward, in short imaginative sequences. Ted’s story is beautifully told without any words and is accompanied by interesting music and sound-scape.

Hand held props are used creatively such as torch light and crisps, and the space is used inventively. All the performers are collaborate, make interesting transitions and are 100% invested in making this wonderful piece of theatre. One thing that is so special about them as puppeteers is that they breathe with their puppets, so that there is a flow to their own movement and that of the puppets.

Given the importance of the topic, Ted is the main feature and his gentle temperament and poignant way of getting on with life is uplifting and positive. This is an enthralling thought-provoking show that enlightens, entertains and offers an emotional but not over sentimental message. It is truly worth seeing.