Tatwood Puppets make their Edinburgh Fringe debut with the perfectly titled Cabaret of Curiosities. It takes place in one of the more curious venues in the city - a 20-seater tent in Hill Square, a space that suits their format aptly.
Each puppet is truly beautiful and carries the potential to boast an intriguing personality.
The show stars a range of gorgeously crafted puppets, opening with the wheelchair-bound narrator Horatio the Hare. Whoever designed and created the puppets is the unsung star of this show. Each puppet is truly beautiful and carries the potential to boast an intriguing personality to boot. Sadly, this potential is far from met. While the puppets can of course move, their facial expressions are static and the puppeteers, though perfectly competent at operating and voicing them, simultaneously don’t breathe real depth into them. The thunder and lightning bearing down on the tent do much to enhance the ambience, but the performers lack the improv chops to go off script and reference it.
The storytelling aspect of the script is mostly generic, and the writing lacks the gravitas required to adequately draw the audience in to the world they aim to create. Much more attention has been lavished on the beautiful props, such as an elaborate shadowy scene and zoetrope-like briefcase. The highlight for the audience seemed to be Count Ocular, the one-eyed magician who features in their marketing. The idea of a puppet performing actual magic is novel, and the sleight of hand skills are impressive for amateurs (or mediocre if they would claim to be pros). But you've probably seen all the effects a hundred times in the street, and the visual spectacle far outranks the execution.
The show is billed in the cabaret section and claims to be suitable for all the family. I would disagree with this, as it is fundamentally a childrens' show. And aside from puppet enthusiasts, adults may not find much to marvel at beyond the puppet and prop designs. Finishing ten minutes shy of its aleady short 45 minute runtime, don’t expect top bang for your buck. But if you fancy a curious cabaret that’s still more fun than your typical Punch and Judy show, this one’s worth a punt.