Review: Famous Puppet Death Scenes at the Barbican ★★★★
The Old Trout Puppet Workshop present Famous Puppet Death Scenes, a bizarre and beautiful series of vignettes on the theme of death – as could only be performed via the medium of puppetry!
Famous Puppet Death Scenes | The Barbican | Until 28 January | £18
Main Photo: AD Zyne
The Pit of the Barbican feels like a fitting venue for this blackly comic series of deathly scenes from The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, a collective of artists who make puppet shows for adults, books for children, operas and films.
This puppet show is definitely one for grown-ups, or older teenagers with a sympathetic eye and ear for the gory and gruesome. Performers Louisa Ashton, Aya Nakamura and Teele Uustani pull the strings, hand the glove (?) and occasionally burst out from the beautifully designed castelet to enact a series of Gilliam-esque, surreal and grotesque deaths.
If you think a puppet show can’t be all that horrible, you clearly haven’t heard anything be bludgeoned with its own knotted innards. Elsewhere, poor Nordo Frot takes a pummelling from all angles, and Bipsy & Mumu face a choice with no good outcomes!
It’s not all sledgehammer stuff though – there is subtlety in a magical, giant pop-up book story, and the final breaths of a bed-bound elderly puppet are intensely moving.
The puppets themselves are works of art, and the performers are enthusiastic and engaging. Perhaps a a few pace changes wouldn’t go amiss, and to be honest, Nordo Frot maybe appears once or twice too many times. But ultimately, Famous Puppet Death Scenes is a grisly delight!
A macabre yet compelling combination of puppetry and mime, Famous Puppet Death Scenes is a treat for anyone with a deliciously dark sense of humour.
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