Citizen Puppet by Blind Summit Theatre at the Pleasance Beyond

Straight off the train, via the ticket collection point (someone had been cheating at the arcade – the tickets just kept on coming) and in to Pleasance Beyond for Citizen Puppet!

Developed in collaboration with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the New Diorama Theatre this production from Blind Summit Theatre was an entertaining look at the lives of the puppet inhabitants of ‘Massiveville’ and their response to the felling of the great bean stalk that had been the economic support of their town and Jack’s subsequent disappearance. Described as ‘a kind of verbatim, true-crime, puppet docudrama’ this sums their show very accurately.

The show is devised by the twitchy Daz, who has decided to produce a play in response to the disaster, as a way for the puppet townsfolk to understand what has happened. However, only half of the townsfolk agree;  the other half decide to go to war with the neighbouring village. The play is interspersed with Daz telling us about the staging and filling in sections with explanations of what is going to happen – “stage right, stage right!” and “now we’ll have a screen come down projecting moments from Jack’s life”. This does work to an extent, although in the middle of the show the plot became too dense. The best moments of Citizen Puppet were when there was no sense of rush to explain the story, just the real-life moments between puppets, interacting with each other.

The puppets themselves were wonderful. The cast of five created nine great personalities. Tina the fag-in-hand pub landlord was the pick of the puppets for her character and form, although all of them had unique moments of brilliance – Daz and his twitches as a result of all the blue pills and Dinah and her slow matter-of-fact delivery.

Overall Citizen Puppet was an entertaining show, with fantastic puppetry and characters, weakened only for the Ginger Wig, because we wanted to see more interaction between the puppets like Terry the Vicar and Daz chatting on the park bench. I was straight off the train and maybe this had an impact on my enjoyment, but regardless, this was a good solid opening for the Ginger Wig and Strolling Man at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival.

Highlight of the show – Suki’s rendition of ‘In The Air Tonight’ accompanied by Terry the Vicar – what bit do you think he was doing?

4/5 WIGS

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