This morning I’ve been to see Puppet Fiction (Newsroom, Noon). I was a bit concerned about whether or not they would have an audience, as the venue is located at an awkward distance away from the schwerpunkt of the festival. However, I needn’t have worried, as the Newsroom cellar was packed to bursting, with probably more people than could comfortably obtain a good view of the action. This explains why a lot of people at the back left before the performance started. For a show where the main selling point is the recreation of a cinematic masterpiece through the actions of marionettes it is an appalling venue. There is a 3′ wide pillar right in the middle of the room, with chairs arranged to each side of it. However, this pillar, which has all of the imperviousness of the Great Wall of China and seems just as huge, dominates the cellar and I’d estimate that whilst 40% of the audience had a good view, 50% had an iffy view and 10% no view. I was in the 10% who could see sod all.
However, not being able to see the marionettes in action wasn’t a total disaster. This is a film I’m familiar with and the real entertainment isn’t actually in the 15” high dolls doing their thing. Instead it is in the performances of Jon Coddington, Anya Tate-Manning and James Nokise. Dressed in the suits of Reservoir Dogs (or at least the one whom I could see ¼ of was), as a shorthand for Tarantino, these three created the first part of Pulp Fiction (the latter parts are in later performances). All of the famous lines were delivered well. However, what made this show so enjoyable and where the biggest laughs were had, was in the ad libs, cross cultural references to other films such as Grease and Die Hard and when they broke the 4th wall. Someone had, amazingly, got a signal and their phone beeped as they received a text. This was incorporated into the show without anyone missing a beat, before they went back to Butch talking to his wife. The monologue concerning the watch dragged a bit and would have benefited from more laughs, but that was the only section where this was an issue.
Although I couldn’t see the actual marionettes in action and for me it was like listening to a show on the wireless, everything was amply described and just by sitting and concentrate on what was being said I had a good time. This show is fun and well realised, but could do with a better venue to get everything out of it.