This stark portrayal of commedia dell’arte figure Punch (of Punch and Judy fame) as he regales in his decrepit elder years in a retirement home was reminiscent of classic morality tales such as a Christmas Carol, wherein the character is visited by several familiar characters from his past in order to show his questionable moral choices.
What’s in the Punch was a promising piece of puppet theatre from a new company that may not yet have found their feet, however the originality of their creative concepts could really wow an audience if followed through with more spark.
The puppet was cleverly made and manipulated by the young talent from new theatre company FaceLift Theatre, who worked the audience well using strong character voices, compelling visuals and some well-placed audience call and response. The brilliance of the puppetry itself was somewhat undermined by the storytelling which felt under baked – the narrative itself being slightly meandering and inconclusive. This morbid puppet that has entertained generations of our youth by beating up his wife and throwing his baby down the stairs could have been compelling in his old age, forced to look upon the misdemeanours of his youth – however I felt that the incredible potential behind this concept was wasted. The piece spent too long setting the scene and putting the puppet in context – something that could have been done in five minutes – leaving no time for the gritty, meaty, dark, fantastical parts of the story, i.e. the bits the audience desperately wanted to see.
Despite this, the dialogue at times was witty and amusing, inspiring giggles from audience members that couldn’t contain their glee at hearing an old puppet saying ‘f***’. What’s in the Punch was a promising piece of puppet theatre from a new company that may not yet have found their feet, however the originality of their creative concepts could really wow an audience if followed through with more spark.