Monday, 13 February 2012
Theatre review: The Devil and Mister Punch
So alongside the crocodile, dog, hangman etc, we see the story of a bull in love with the matador, in one of the more bizarre sequences, while all along Harvey in particular seems to be having his own breakdown, the puppet-master becoming the puppet. Alternately funny, melancholy, macabre and grotesque (the hanging of Jack Ketch comes complete with a neck-snap sound effect that made the audience gasp,) I think this is the kind of show whose ideas and metaphors you could discuss for days, never shaking the suspicion that ultimately it doen't actually mean much at all.
Jan compared the show to a series of very slowed-down Spike Milligan Q sketches, and the sometimes leisurely pace was probably my biggest problem with it; the show is surreal enough without dragging bits out, and the instances of cheesy music-hall gags seem to miss the point if they're not done snappily. The work done with the puppets and endlessly clever set (by Julian Crouch, Rob Thirtle and Mike Kerns) is inventive and shows a real fascination with the subject (the Hieronymus Bosch Hell of discarded puppets is a great image; as well as probably giving a pretty accurate idea of what Ian's personal Hell would look like) but overall the show didn't quite click with me.
The Devil and Mister Punch by Julian Crouch, Rob Thirtle, Nick Haverson, John Foti, Saskia Lane, Jessica Scott and Seamus Maynard is booking until the 25th of February at The Pit.
Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes straight through.