Enjoyable but undercooked satire from puppet theatre legends Blind Summit
Mercurial puppet-theatre legends Blind Summit return to the Fringe with what is unquestionably one of their sillier shows. The place is the village of Massiveville, the time the aftermath of dramatic events: the giant beanstalk that had propped up the town’s economy has been hacked down under mysterious circumstances; a dead giant has fallen out of the sky; and the beanstalk’s owner, Jack, has mysteriously disappeared.
What follows is, in the show’s own words, a ‘puppet verbatim true crime fairytale play’ as local wreckhead Daz (puppeteer Simon Scardifield) decides to interrogate whatever the hell just happened via the medium of verbatim theatre. As it transpires, ‘Citizen Puppet’ is in fact a slyly political work, managing to turn the beloved fairytale into an allegory for the credit crunch, with Jack the feckless chancer who has brought first hope then ruin what turns out to be a village with a suspicious number of parallels to London.
None of this stops ‘Citizen Puppet’ being extremely silly, a series of larky interviews with self-important, self-absorbed, socially awkward puppet talking heads who look a bit like the cast of ‘Avenue Q’ gone Bunraku. If anything, it is more successful as a piss-take of self-important documentary theatre than it is about the global crash, but I think that’s as Blind Summit intended – you probably don’t need some puppets to tell you that bankers are arseholes.
It is extremely enjoyable, but all rather brief – the story takes about 35 minutes-ish to tell, and then there’s about five more minutes tacked on as **SPOILER ALERT** the puppets launch into a rendition of Phil Collins’s ‘In the Air Tonight’, apropos of nothing. It’s great fun, but it’s hard to shake the nagging feeling that – for all the tremendous skill on display – it’s a bit half-baked, a brilliant jape that doesn’t add up to a whole show.