Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Two old men are in a care home; one Italian, one French. They are attended to by a care worker whose attributes are both in front of her, and behind her. They vie for her attention and to attend to her curves before a third old man, English arrives to upset the equilibrium. They then drink coffee, bicker and die before the care home nurse returns as the Angel who may allow them into heaven.
This has exceptionally well observed puppetry skills on show; the problem is in the narrative. Like something out of a Benny Hill/Carry On film script we have the type of leering misogyny that is celebrated in a White House and derided in society. Along with a sound track that cements the idea that we are stuck in the 1970’s this did not bode well.
And yet there is the skill brought to the stage by the puppeteers. This has craft written all over it as all three men were clearly distinct and with an exceptionally well developed sense of character. The relationships between the were well defined and again well observed with the pettiness of institutionalised behaviour there for all to see. They were all elderly people that we could spot in a care home near each of us.
The care worker though was Barbara Windsor and Hattie Jacques combined as her top half bulged and her bottom half shelved. All that was left was for one of the old men to disappear off to deal with their own bulge… until the Italian came out the toilet with a Playboy…
Being unable to lift itself out of the type of cheap gags that included making the nurse/care worker bend over to pick things up, the way they fought over her affections and the interaction between them were all petty. The pettiness in the latter would have made a clearer and better minefield down which to wander.
The set was appropriate to the puppetry and the sound effects managed to give us the care home with enough detail to be convincing. The final act, of the care worker taking them through a form of celestial security was probably the best part of the show.
The direction managed to keep things moving at a pace though sometimes it was a little ponderous. Overall, we had a well defined sense of how each character was performing their role in the care home. I just wanted there to be a script that equalled the clear craft work on display.