REVIEW Suspense Puppetry Festival 2011

Phew. What a week. Tuesday was tragic. Wednesday was surreal. Thursday was found inside a biscuit tin. Puppets of all kinds are now dancing a waltz together in our exhausted but happy heads.  Not been to any of the Suspense shows yet? There’s still time. There are masses more performances between now and the festival end on Sunday night. Check the festival calendar to find out what’s on when.

These reviews were originally written for the Londonist

The Tragic and Regrettable Life of Teofila  – Wooden Fingers at the Pleasance

Who knew back-from-the-dead-sex between a beautiful puppet with long black locks and a beaky demon in disguise could be so steamy?  The Pleasance’s studio space was where whimsical English folk music met feisty Peruvian lore about love, and the combination was an oddly happy one.  The script was lyrical and funny, the puppets were sweet and the humans had twinkles in their eyes.  This was part one of a work in progress – look out for future collaborations between Wooden Fingers and folk band Apple of My Eye.

The House of Bernada Alba – Yas-e-Tamam Theater Group at the New Diorama

Lorca performed in Farsi by performers and puppets with blanked out and stitched up faces, this production was the work of Tehran-based Yas-e-Tamam.  It was like a dark dream, where the images and atmosphere were strong, but sense was just beyond our reach.  That’s not a criticism – we loved the piece.  It was well choreographed physical theatre that communicated much through the body movements of both the puppets and the actors, who were dressed the same and played interchangeable parts.  Reading the synopsis before the play began was essential, although we kind of wish we hadn’t.  We’re curious to know what the experience would have been like without that guidance.

Memoirs of a Biscuit Tin – Maison Foo at Jackson’s Lane

Last night was covered in dust and spent in the company of a door, a wall and a fireplace who had lost their homeowner, Mrs Benjamin.  Turns out her spirit was trapped within a biscuit tin, inside a mute microwave.  This funny and poignant piece had a child-like quality but adult themes.  It was about memory and about losing one’s mind.  The set was truly inventive, with fusty household objects metamorphosing into a range of characters from missing Mrs Benjamin’s past.  Maison Foo offered us puppetry in its loosest but most playful sense.  We were charmed.

Catch up with earlier festival posts here.


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