Famous Puppet Death Scenes
Again, straight off the bat, I have to admit that I am a sucker for this kind of show. I love puppets not only because of the skill involved in using them, but also because, when done well, they are beautiful pieces of art in themselves.
Famous Puppet Death Scenes is exactly what it sounds like, a collection of the most 'famous puppet death scenes in history'. There follows a huge number of skits based on this theme, with a wide range of puppet types and some very skilled puppeteers. The whole thing was tied together through a number of callbacks to earlier scenes as a series of monologues from a strange old puppet with a haunting storytelling voice that reminded me strongly of the recently departed Stuart McLean.
Primarily, I have to say that this was the best designed show that I have ever seen in a Fringe. Every single puppet was absolutely beautiful to look at and meticulously crafted.
I came into the theatre expecting the performance to be funny, and it was, despite the subject they were working with. They set the tone with a very slapstick opening scene and from there I knew it was a safe space to laugh. Sometimes I laughed obnoxiously.
There is a disconnect with puppets 'dying' on stage even in the most horrible of ways, although I recognise that some people might not be able to make that disconnect quite so easily. As the show went on, some scenes hit the mark more than others; some I laughed at more and some less. All the time the puppetry was beautiful and creative and the scenes became weirder and weirder.
But it was only in the last three scenes, after I began thinking that maybe the show had gone on too long, that I realised there was a whole other dimension that I had not seen yet. I know this must sound ridiculous given the subject material, but we had been guided (or guided ourselves) to at least try laughing at every scene. In reality, I recognised far too late, that some of the scenes were just a beautiful depiction of what death is, and suddenly I became reinvested in the show. The company pulled the brakes and everything suddenly took on a beautiful pathos. I wanted to watch the whole show again through different eyes. But too soon it was over. The 'Stuart McLean' puppet delivered a heartbreakingly beautiful final monologue and I was left with my head spinning.
I wish I had seen this aspect to the scenes earlier. As well as being a weird, creative, beautiful show, it was also very very nearly a wonderful commentary on death and acceptance. I do not know if that was my fault, or if I needed to be guided more by the group with scene choice and placement.
The more I think about this show, the more I like it. But it must come with a warning. It is not just a funny piece. It can be touching, dark and in some circumstances hard to watch. But I hope as many people as possible see it to make their minds up for themselves.
This is a very hard show to define because it is often weird, sometimes beautiful and also an entertaining watch. So it gets a whole plethora of birds.