Take one expressive puppet head, a couple of pieces of cloth and you have a very remarkable show – you certainly have when Milena Mlianova is the puppeteer.
First performed in 2009 while Milanova was completing a Master’s degree, Nikotine is based on what is known in English as ‘Smoking Is Bad For You’, a darkly golden piece by Anton Chekov.
Nikolai Nikolaievich has been ‘voluteered’ by his wife to deliver a lecture on the evil effects of tobacco, but we realise that it is at least as much the evil effects of his domineering wife that Nikolai suffers from.
In Milanova’s very capable hands, this Nikolai expresses some very Slavic personality traits, triumphant one moment, downcast the next, yet rising to almost every challenge except the one of finding a way out of his intolerable predicament.
Throughout, this is puppetry of a very high order indeed, and Milanova’s considerable skills outshine those of many highly competent puppet companies.
Getting ‘Nikolai’ to dance is but one of the highlights of this tight, short show, while the puppet’s outrageous flirtation with his puppeteer is a technical as well as visual delight.
Although it will be clear by now that this reviewer was completely sold on this production, as Stewie Griffen of ‘Family Guy’ might have it, this really is ‘Such a good show!’
It’s other attraction amid a not always family-friendly Fringe, is that this is one that really could delight a family audience, with the proviso that those who prefer their offspring remain ignorant of the wicked weed might be perturbed by the wonderful smoke effect, whose creation I am unable to credit.
In any event, these five stars are justly earned. Go see.
Show times: August 6-12 at 17.25, August 14-19 at 14.50, August 21-27 at 14.15
Tickets: £8.50 (£6.50)