6 August 2005

Puppet Palaver Review

Our roving critic, Naomi Guss, attended the puppet romp, 'Puppet Palaver' in Melbourne last weekend and wrote today's review (which she also published in her weekly 'Zine'):
"The show, produced by Philip Millar (known for his work on The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe, and many other productions), combined the efforts of many puppeteers, showcasing their work. It started off with a ‘Aussie bloke’ koala, setting the scene with song. Then followed the ‘Porno Puppets of Prague’, a marionette piece set inside a little booth – the title says it all, with horny puppets screwing each other onstage. It might have been amusing to the audience, but to even inexperienced puppeteers, the manipulation was annoying. Narrated by McIvor, it seemed as though the puppeteers were either trying to keep up, or were going to fast, and many times you could see hands in the ‘booth’ (imagine a Punch and Judy booth, but with the puppeteers standing outside of it, operating the marionettes from above), and several times the backdrops fell over. I’m not one for R-rated performances anyway, so it didn’t particularly thrill me. There was a short piece (and I mean short!) from Richard Bradshaw, who is noted for his shadow puppetry. I was so disappointed to see that he only came out with a cardboard cut-out (like what they use for shadow puppets). While the piece was amusingly about John Howard’s backflips in politics, I had gone specifically on that night (Bradshaw was only doing two shows throughout the season) to catch his work. It lasted for less than five minutes.

All in all, I’d give the show about 6 thumbs up. At two and a half hours, bordering on three, the show was too long. Many of the pieces may have been enjoyable, if you like the lewdness, but as I don’t, it wasn’t the best I’ve seen. On top of which, the showcase was very relaxed, and while I did enjoy the amiable banter of the band, it seemed less of a professional production and more of a relaxed night out for the audience. But I suppose that’s how the show has been marketed. Some of the puppetry I’d want to see more of, or at least find out more about the puppeteer/their show that the piece came from. It was not what I expected, and I’m somewhat disappointed" by Naomi Guss, Melbourne. (This article has been edited)

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