Pleasance Beyond, Edinburgh
As the name suggests, Blind Summit’s production is indeed a puppet show – but set aside all preconceptions of Punch and Judy. These ‘extreme puppets’ are quite remarkable creations, with facial characteristics so lifelike you quickly start to think of them as actors – and they’re expertly voiced by a team of black-clad operators with hooded faces. Five performers manage to operate nine characters between them and what’s more the whole enterprise is backed up by a witty and inventive script.
The community of Massiveville is in turmoil. In the middle of the night, somebody has chopped down the giant beanstalk that used to stand in the town square and now the body of a massive giant is stretched out across the supermarket car park. But what has happened to the town’s number one citizen, Jack, the man who has been dispensing golden eggs to all and sundry? Could he have anything to do with this? And why is he nowhere to be found?
The story is presented in the way that a contemporary scandal might be aired now – complete with people getting selfies in front of the dead giant and the local police searching for clues to the identity of the perpetrator. We’re told that what we’re actually watching here is a piece of theatre devised around real events and directed by the twitchy, pill-popping loner. ‘Daz,’ the town’s resident weirdo and is essentially a series of monologues presented directly to the audience.
It’s a neat twist on the familiar fairy tale and the effect is only slightly marred by the fact that the venue is so hot – I really felt for the operators, sweating in their head-to-toe black Lycra. Parents thinking that this might be good bet to entertain very young children should be warned that with it’s serious themes and punchy script, Citizen Puppet is better suited to adult audiences.