WOW's guide to the 2014 EDINBURGH FESTIVALS

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Comedy review: Henson Alternative’s Puppet Up! – Uncensored

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Henson Alternative’s Puppet Up! – Uncensored at Assembly Hall (Venue 35), reviewed by Fiona Shepherd

The dirty Muppets are in town and we are all invited to the “psychotic puppet party” – what are you waiting for?

For those who have made it to adult life without the joy of the Muppets in your life, a filmed sketch outlining the three historical stages of puppetry will fill you in – first there was the dinosaurs, then Punch & Judy, then Jim Henson, and pity the fool who challenges this version of events.

The Puppet Up! works thus: a troupe of five crack puppeteers perform sketches with scenarios suggested by the audience (there are separate PG performances for the kids). You can follow the puppet action on the screens – the equivalent of what you would see in a Muppet movie or on the television show, starring a menagerie of new characters from the Henson Creature Workshop.

Don’t underestimate the joy of watching puppets lunging towards the camera with their mouths open in exultation. But, as MC Patrick Bristow points out, there is the additional intrigue of watching the workings, the down below stuff, played out in full view by expert puppeteers with their eye on the screens, making sure that everything is framed just so.

These guys are marvellous multi-taskers – as well as operating the puppets with seemingly effortless dexterity, they make silly voices, sing, improvise jokes and exhibit intuitive comic timing as they relive the first date of a couple plucked from the audience, create a Bond film opening sequence and rap a kids’ story.

One lucky audience member gets a crash course in the Henson method of Muppetry and, as an extra unexpected treat for fans, the team reprise a couple of classic Henson sketches from the archives, which are captivating in their simplicity.

The only pity is that, due to the improvisatory nature of the show, we will never again hear the story of the Headless Woman Goes Fishing – featuring evil aubergines – but if you are lucky, there may be enough time at the end for some
bonus puppet nudity (think about it).

Until 26 August. Today 9pm

More info: Henson Alternative’s Puppet Up! – Uncensored is at Assembly Hall

Originally published in The Scotsman

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Patrick is a journalist based in Edinburgh

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