Return of the Great Puppet Horn, Traverse Theatre, Review (Manipulate)

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Pangolin’s Teatime England
Jeremy Bidgood, Lewis Young
Jeremy Bidgood, Lewis Young
Running time

The white screen that was to be host to the mad shenanigans of The Great Puppet Horn is quite small but managed over the hour long show to contain pretty much all the big topics of the day as seen by the writers and puppeteers, Jeremy Bidgood and Lewis Young.  The two appeared from nowhere, bounding out of the darkness like a pair of big kids running about mad and kicking off their shoes before settling down to the serious job of being The Great Puppet Horn.

Seated behind this screen, Bidgood and Young produce a series of (sometimes) hinged cardboard cut-outs that shadow themselves into life and are given voice by their zany manipulators then cast carelessly off as soon as they’ve served their artistic purpose. How they manage to sort the flung away figures after the show must be a nightmare, but as chaos plays a large part in Puppet Horn, it’s likely not that much of a problem to them!

We are taken on a hilarious journey from a Harry Potteresque version of David Cameron’s history to Take That’s part in the fall of the British economy.  We meet the super hero of syntax Grammar Cop and look at race and immigration through the eyes of Bi Polar Bear and Immigration Cap, among their fantastic mélange of characters and learn of a new disease IBS (irritable bastard syndrome). From the Royals to the Referendum, they are bang up to date and in spite of the apparent inanity, live up to the warning on their ‘calling card’ that the show “contains political anger”.

Personally, I enjoyed what may or may not be a 21st century tribute to the dialogue of the characters Charles and Fiona in the ‘60s radio show Round the Horn, who were in turn a spoof of Noël Coward. (“I know. I know you know…”).  It took the form of a Facebook spoof of ‘friends’ perpetually liking ‘liking’.  Brilliant!

This is zany, irreverent, and seriously funny theatre – the Reeves and Mortimer of the puppet world – that evoked spontaneous bursts of applause and delighted laughter thoughout. As long as there are mad things going on in the world may there be intelligent entertainment like this to cast anarchic light on them.

The Return of the Great Puppet Horn is appearing at the Vaults Festival in London (9 to 26 Feb 2012)