You won’t come across many shows like The Hit, a solo hour of storytelling performed entirely by a puppet.
Strangeface’s play takes an intellectual, philosophical approach to puppetry – The Hit is all about cognitive dissonance, about realising that we might not be as autonomous as we think. The fact that it’s delivered by a puppet, visibly controlled by three handlers, adds a dose of meta-theatrical spice.
Written and directed by Russell Dean, The Hit sees Mikey – a small, bald, bare-chested New Yorker of a puppet – stroll and leap across three stone platforms, telling a noir-ish story about an assassination gone wrong and some nagging last words that have turned his life on its head.
It’s a distinctly dreamlike tale, gliding between memories – an encounter in a steam-room, a fight on a trampoline, a breakdown in Toys ‘R’ Us – with seamless fluidity. There’s real thought here, the storytelling layered and deep.
It’s an awful lot of hard work, though. Mikey is excellently manipulated and charismatically voiced, but an hour is a long time to listen to a puppet talk vaguely about neuroscience. It’s a huge topic, and Strangeface can’t quite get a grip on it. This particular puppet has bitten off more than he can chew.