4/5 Stars

★★★★ Puppetry and Mask tell the story of Homelessness and Addiction

imageMask, puppetry and physical theatre combine to tell the story of Jack, a boy who ends up on the street after his alcoholic mother dies.

It’s a sad tale and one full of demons, but the puppetry and the mask work allow us to explore these dark issues while also lifting us by the magic of their movements.

On the street, Jack’s path becomes entangled with a couple, Sophie and Pete, who are also homeless. There is something in Sophie’s gentle nature that reminds Jack of his need for motherly love, but her pregnancy and her drinking problem also bring back painful memories of home.

This is where the puppetry and the astounding sound design come to the fore. Sometimes when using both masked and unmasked characters a production runs the risk of drawing attention to how ‘unreal’ the masked characters are, but in this sense they work perfectly as a way of accessing Jack’s memories and fears.

Some of the most affecting moments are when the sound motif of breaking glass drifts in over the ‘real-time’ action, and both the masked figure of Jack’s mother and the demon that controls her rise up and bear down upon Jack. I was utterly transfixed by Bradley Thompson’s performance as Jack and it is hard to believe that there are only two other actors (Dorie Kinnear and Tom Stacy) controlling the masks, puppets and playing the parts of the homeless couple as well.

This is a captivating production with some of the best set design you’ll find at the fringe. It tells a simple, yet powerful story, which slowly works away at your emotional barriers leaving you touched and, for some audience members, teary-eyed by the end.

The Marked plays at Pleasance Dome until August 29th (not 17) and performances start at 13:30.

Categories: 4/5 Stars, review

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