Edinburgh Fringe 2022
This is Japanese shadow puppetry courtesy of Seri Yanai from Japan and Daniel Wishes from Canada. Together, as the Mochinosha Puppet Company, they use their voices and hundreds of intricately cut paper puppets, some lamps and a big screen to deliver a blockbuster of a show. This is Space Hippo.
According to Space Hippo our planet is doomed, a not so cheery but worryingly plausible start to this highly entertaining shadow puppetry show. The paper cut out scenes, puppet hippos, lizards, spaceships, cute food robot, and the audience are all in safe hands. We strap ourselves in and for fifty minutes escape our own realm as we take off on a fabulous fantasy journey. The story has a heart as big as a hippo, it incorporates much humour, a couple of great songs, and plenty of colour, lights and action. There are some touching moments too. It may be too late for our planet, but we can still dream of planetary peace and a pollution-free future watched over by a benevolent Space Hippo.
The audience show their appreciation throughout, with chuckles and giggles of recognition as movie, history and cultural references appear on screen. There is also much love for the food robot and a baby hippo. Who doesn’t love a baby hippo? At the end of the show our hard-working, creative and talented puppeteers appear back on stage briefly to take a bow having spent the best part of an hour on the floor manipulating and voicing their puppets and demonstrating great comedic and dramatic timing and skill. As we land blinkingly back on planet Fringe there is much applause.
The only other puppet show I have seen at the Fringe this year is the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets, a Fringe favourite delivered with great humour and expertise. Whereas the socks use a child-friendly puppet medium to deliver often quite adult comedy, this Mochinosha shadow puppet show is very family friendly. It has a suggested age suitability of eight plus and this is a performance that can be enjoyed by the young and the young at heart. Yet it does touch on some serious topics including war, planetary annihilation and the challenge of how to feed a hungry hippo in space.
There is no shortage of stars to be seen at this time of year, you will see small, neat, black and white constellations of them appearing on posters and flyers across Edinburgh, forming a twinkling backdrop to the alternative universe we call the Fringe. The truth is, there are so many that they may have lost their gravity. If, however you want to be reminded of an alternative planet, a place where magic really can happen then head for the stars in the company of the magnificent Space Hippo. This is a hidden gem, a shooting star that burns bright every morning at 10:20 am in the Blue Room at the Assembly George Square.