The Table, manipulate Festival, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Blind Summit Theatre
Mark Down (director), Nick Barnes (puppet maker), Fergus Waldron (technical manager), Lemez and Friedel (music), Nick Barnes Laura Caldow, Sarah Calver, Fiona Clift, Mark Down, Sean Garratt, Mabel Jones, Irena Strateiva, Ivan Thorley (co-devisers)
Nick Barnes, Mark Down, Sean Garratt
Running time

It is a disconcerting piece of irony that a puppet made for another show and based on an anti-Semitic propaganda poster ends up representing Moses! The road to this odd situation is based on a commission made to Blind Summit by the Jewish Community Centre in London. While studying for this, Blind Summit became fascinated by Moses the man who they learned was buried by God in an unmarked grave. The Table is a kind of reverse of the assertion of God’s divinity over Moses’ humanity where they “put Moses back on the table in puppet form”.

And what superb puppet form! Using a version of the Japanese Bunraku style of puppetry, the three puppeteers, Nick Barnes, Mark Down and Sean Garratt, breath convincing life in to the skinny-limbed, cloth-bodied and cardboard-headed wee figure of a curmudgeonly Moses who struts his stuff on a plain Yorkshire table.

For the first 20 minutes, the puppet, voiced by Mark Down, hilariously and ingeniously shares the delights of his table top confinement where he has created a universe out of limited surroundings. While the concept of Moses is still waiting in the wings, the stage (or in this case the table) is already set for the anarchic, self-referential style of the piece.

Once the star emerges, the company’s brand of extreme puppetry turns to gloriously irreverent ‘epic Biblical puppetry’. The slinky Latin style music that plays before the explosion from a solitary table to discreet disorder, signals the surreal surprises in store where a wee man gets involved in a series of surreal antics amid the exposé of sophistry, all performed and delivered in comic style of cheeky insouciance.

In The Table, Blind Summit Theatre has created a masterclass in radical grown-up puppetry that references Barthes and German Expressionists, with clear absurdist influences. In the style of some stand-up comedians, they interact with the audience – a testament to their confidence at improvisation as it’s not every time their chosen ‘victim’ will be a fellow professional!

It is a privilege to be able to see these three men and a table in their raucously funny and deservedly award-winning show with the indomitable presence of the raunchy Moses at manipulate 2016 in a show that has the audience roaring and eagerly leaning forward to drink in the unique experience.

age recommend 12 + Tuesday 03 February at 7.30pm