AT THE THEATRE
Edinburgh Fringe 2018: Famous Puppet Death Scenes @ Summerhall
As the name suggests, this is a puppet show which brings together a series of sketches depicting death in a wide variety of forms. Our host is one Nathaniel Tweak, an elderly puppet who repeatedly reminds us that we, too, may face our demise at any moment. Unlike the average Punch and Judy show, this one isn’t really suitable for children due to its level of sex and graphic violence.
Famous Puppet Death Scenes is one of those cases where an undeniable level of style and quirky creativity trumps substance. In terms of visual design, such as the traditional wooden booth-style set, the lighting, the colourful backdrops and the grotesque puppet figures themselves, it is a remarkably imaginative show. The better sketches are admittedly rather funny; these include a giant butterfly whose earlier appearance pays off with shocking hilarity in a later sequence, a pair of aliens who have to decipher a question asked by a disembodied German-speaking voice in order avoid being eaten by a monster, and a hapless boy who is lured to a particularly gruesome fate in a foggy alleyway. Perhaps the most inventive moment, however, involves a puppet spinning helplessly in space, complete with various brightly-coloured planets popping up into view. The ongoing Nathaniel Tweak story also culminates in a surprisingly touching and haunting penultimate scene.
Unfortunately, too many of the other sketches either fall flat or go on for significantly longer than they need to - one involving a puppeteer playing with a toy farm being a classic example. The production just about sustains itself through 70 minutes thanks to its unrelenting Tim Burton-esque quirkiness. However, it would have worked better in the usual puppet show manner whereby one would chance upon in a fairground, or at the seaside, and take small doses by dipping in and out of it on a whim. Well, apart from the fact that you would want to cover your children’s eyes while doing so. Damn.
Watch a video:
Tickets are available from the following link: