Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Citizen Puppet, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott.
Have you ever seen a puppet do verbatim theatre? Does the phrase “verbatim theatre” fill you with fear? Do puppets?
Chill out, as director, drug addict and puppet Daz Mayhew might say: Blind Summit, makers of the multi-award-winning The Table, have created a “true life”, work-in-progress, workshop production that that brings politics to puppetry in a way that brilliantly satirises both.
Inspired by, amongst other things, the National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch, it’s set in Massiveille, where residents enjoy both a rural lifestyle and the close proximity of a supermarket. Everything’s great, until a giant and a beanstalk come crashing down – a bit like the financial industry.
In the aftermath of such a disaster, small-minded, wooden-bodied Members of the Local Community (With capital letters because they’re Important) are left with only two options: go to war with a neighbouring village or “start a conversation with themselves” about what happened through the medium of theatre.
Between popping “blueys”, Daz gives residents an unprecedented opportunity to talk about what matters to them: whether it’s immigration, the way things were better as they once were, or taking the perfect selfie. Meanwhile, tough-talking DI Clive investigates with a winning combination of anti-PC charm and a battered leather jacket.
Whizzing around the stage on their tall wooden benches, the anarchic Bunraku puppets – including Daily Mail reading Scotswoman, Tina Henderson – are brought to life by the anonymous puppeteers delivering writer and director Mark Down’s thrillingly funny one-liners, as sharp as any from the best stand-up comedians.
However, Jack and the Beanstalk as an analogy for inequality, xenophobia and The Cuts can only be stretched so far and the devised story and its ending could be more developed – things that, as a seasoned verbatim theatregoer, I would have loved to put in a feedback form at the end, but Daz forgot to hand them out.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 13 August 2015
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