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Brighton Fringe: The Great Puppet Horn

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

What is it with puppets and Knockabout satire? The Great Puppet Horn (the ‘Horn’, we are told, is ambiguous) might be a potential successor to Spitting Image – although the lo-fi 2D cardboard figures and exaggerated spirit of silliness might equally stack up against South Park.

When it comes to making David Cameron a laughing stock, it’s shadow puppets you want, not the Shadow Cabinet. In this anarchic offering, the PM is In Cahoots with an evil alien queen Thatcher, with Nick Clegg as his literal lapdog.

The hero of the story, though, is a borderline-depressive Bi Polar Bear – with the ‘bi’ having the expected double meaning about his sexuality. Even in silhouette, he’s sad-eyed refugee who flees to Britain as his iceberg has melted, then finds love online. It's quite a sweet story that grounds the madness spawned from the headlines, and makes a valiant, if ill-fated, job of holding the loose plot together.

Puppeteers Jeremy Bidgood and Lewis Young are keen to encompass all the big topics of the day, throwing all manner of news stories into the joyously fast-paced and often inventive epic. Wind turbines take an unlikely central role, while in this energetic duo’s imagination, the immigration cap is an actual item of headwear.

Taken in isolation, the plot is flimsy, the jokes cheesy and the satire broad, sometimes very obvious. But the way they combine in a spirit of hyperactive, daft fun ensures boisterous laughs as the supposed great and the good are reduced to bit players in this preposterous farce. Meanwhile the topical theme makes the rough and ready show relevant, if not reverent

Similarly, the duo behind the white screen – aka Pangolin’s Teatime Company – are no impressionists, but they more than make up for that with the verve of their performance, which also extends to the odd comic song: their Jews Brothers number being an especial hit.

All in all, there’s a lot of colour contained in The Great Puppet Horn’s tiny black-and-white world.

Review date: 16 May 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Otherplace at Bar Broadway

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