Verbatim theatre is squarely in the firing line of Blind Summit’s latest bout of Extreme Puppetry, with the aesthetics of London Road applied to a modern-day Jack and the Beanstalk: the residents of a middle England town line up to tell their version of the sudden arrival of a dead giant’s body on the high street.
The medium popularised by Alecky Blythe turns out to be the perfect fit for Blind Summit’s keenly observed writing and eerily evocative puppetry. The fairytale conceit is really only an excuse for sharp social observations, some winningly subversive humour and distinctive, instant character work.
There’s more than a shade of The League of Gentlemen to the inhabitants of sleepy Massiveville, but the characters never sink too deeply into the grotesque. The Daily Mail-reading barmaid, selfie-obsessed young nurse and tweaking pillhead have a reality to them that’s the result of a perfect synergy of form and content, of puppeteer’s skill and scriptwriter’s craft.
That’s what truly sets Blind Summit’s work apart from their puppeteering peers. Writer and director Mark Down’s script is as idiosyncratic and carefully geared as his puppet work. Impressive design and a talented cast bring the characters to life, but it’s the writing that makes Citizen Puppet such a vivid joy.
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