Review: A Puppet Named Desire

By Steve Bennett at the Brighton Fringe

The main gimmick of A Puppet Named Desire is that a cute muppet who talks dirty – clearly he’s called Bloo because of the colour of his humour, as well as the colour of his fur. However with Avenue Q, Randy and even Elmo shooting the breeze with Ricky Gervais, puppets acting all grown up is not such a point of distinction any more.

In fact, this is a fairly traditional, sketch show, of which the puppetry (which also includes a character called Awkward Prawn and a restaurant waiter who looks like Oscar The Grouch) is often the weakest link, even if it’s technically well-executed.

There is, for an example, a recurring Birds And Bees shadow theatre sketch relies on little more than a repeated silhouette of a spunking cock for it’s laughs... and it’s not as funny as that sounds. The team from the Stickyback Theatre Company use their craft skills to much better effect when it comes to creating oversized props for skits that are daft, without the juvenile obsession with filth.

Their finest moment involves an excellent play on how vampires have evolved from the sinister and brainless Nosferatu-era killers to the metrosexual Twilight bunch, played very much for silliness. Though even this could do with a trim, as the gag is over-explained as the scene fizzles out.

But for every good joke there’s something more strained, such a guy singing Ronan Keating songs to impress a date or a gratuitous below-the-belt mention. There’s a studenty sensibility – to use the term at its most pejorative – to the hour.

All the scenes are loosely themed about relationship and romance, although it’s not really an hour to fall in love with. The enthusiasm of the performers and their wholehearted commitment to the gag makes it reasonably fun, but the script could do with sharpening, and maturing.

Published: 23 May 2013

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