Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

"Brilliant and hilariously devised adult puppet theatre"

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

Hijinx- Meet Fred , Summerhall , August-13-16
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by Hijinx- Meet Fred From “the Edinburgh Guide” 11th August

“Imagine waking up one morning and discovering you’re a puppet! Well, that’s what happens in this brilliant and hilariously devised piece of adult puppet theatre called Meet Fred. The piece is the result of a training workshop for Welsh company Hijinx’ learning disabled actors by the renowned UK puppet company Blind Summit, that deals in ‘extreme puppetry’ with a version of the Japanese Bunraku style of puppetry involving three puppeteers per puppet.

Fred, the featureless cloth puppet, grunts out his birth pains (thanks to his voice Dan McGowan) and struggles to his feet on top of a trunk in front of a set of blackboards covered with mind mapping of show. We then are witness to this lippy wee tabula rasa making his way through the storms of life in this irreverent self- referential piece of highly skilled puppet theatre.

Fred experiences being put over the proverbial ‘f*** barrel’ when he has to deal with card carrying PCS member and multi biroed bureaucrat Jack (Richard Newnham) from the Department for Work and Puppets whose motto is “Dreams don’t pay wages”. He negotiates his way on t’internet dating scene when his profile is ‘liked’ by Lucille (Lindsay Foster) that results in a cringingly stilted date that, according to a nearby audience member was ‘typical’. He gets totally hammered in a bar but manages a cool as whatever- your- preferred- expletive is of a Michael Jackson dance routine including the moonwalk.

But mostly, Fred experiences the rage and cuss inducing frustration of being different and other. Thanks to the skills of these puppeteers, and to the wicked humour that is tightly woven through the entire text, this tiny cloth figure induces empathy as he encounters problems while he puts his tentative foot out trying to take control of his fragile life. This is a terrifically funny no holds barred subversive satire on what it’s like to live with high dependence while maintaining a strong sense of self. Empowering, inclusive and entertaining. Get across to Summerhall and meet Fred ‘in the cloth’!”

Author: Irene Brown

Credits; Hijinx company (devisers), Ben Pettitt-Wade (director), Ceri James (lighting designer), Jon Dunn (music), Tom Espina & GiuliaInnocenti (Puppetry Dramaturgs of Blind Summit) Tom Ayres (technician), Jon Dunn (music), Martin Vick (stage manager) Performers: Dan McGowan (Puppeteer & Voice of ‘Fred’), Morgan Thomas, Craig Quat (puppeteers) Lindsay Foster (Lucille/ Maker), Richard Newnham (Jack). Ben Pettitt-Wade (the director)

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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