Famous Puppet Death Scenes @ CanadaHub, King's Hall

CanadaHub and the Old Trout Puppet Workshop's new play celebrates the best of puppetry in this rare treat

Review by Caitlin A Kearney | 08 Aug 2018

Absurd death and violence have been starring themes in puppet shows for time out of mind, and yet this particular spectacle, Famous Puppet Death Scenes, is a rare treat.

CanadaHub and The Old Trout Puppet Workshop speak to a tendency to project feelings on to inanimate objects, then flatten that quirk with a massive wooden fist. Woven between hysterical displays of puppet misery and gore are more sombre, tender moments, and while the gravity of these is not completely lost, there remains a giddiness left over in the air from previous displays. Our mournful, poetic host is the only voice to wholly cut through the decadent silliness. He implores us to have a care for the puppets in their fragility and helplessness, for our own mortality. He believes that the perfect example of puppet death can exist with enough empathy and love afforded by the onlookers – a challenge to us due to the overwhelming comedy of the premise.

Where actors take centre stage, the mood is a little more cautious, but the wait for the puppets to return is never long. If love is not quite so freely gifted by the audience to the puppets, it's given in every movement by the puppeteers to the puppets, and so to us. The clear internal connectedness of the show tells us with no uncertainty the amount of care that goes into the work. Each new scene is more beautiful and inventive than the last, and so many in number that the handsome Art Deco set appears to give Mary Poppins’ carpet bag a run for its money. 

Famous Puppet Death Scenes serves mainly belly laughs, but also soul food. It is selling like painted wooden hotcakes, and that at least is no surprise.

Famous Puppet Death Scenes, CanadaHub@King’s Hall (Mainspace), Edinburgh, Aug 2-12, 14-19, 21-26 (not 13 & 18)

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