Citizen Puppet

Blind Summit bring a mastery of puppetry to the stage, layering meta-narrative upon verbatim performance upon crime headline in an original look at the aftermath of the Jack and the Beanstalk tale. Whilst the story unravels the remaining characters of the puppets, not to mention their impressive technicality, shine through a slightly overlooked plotline.

An excellent exercise in puppetry and how it can convey more than pieces of levity.

The story is framed around a workshop performance, with citizens of Massiveville constructing a play to help come to terms with the fact that their main source of income, the eponymous beanstalk, has tumbled down accompanied by a dead giant. The first-hand accounts are engaging, but it becomes clear that the story itself isn't so much concerned with the event as the characters of those who witnessed it. Ranging from an underprepared DI to a stuck-up college girl, the citizens are indeed what makes the show. It's a great premise, and due to the stop and start nature of the show we see these characters shine through all the more, led by director and dope head Daz. The minute affectations of the characters and their every nervous tick is captured beautifully by the "bank robber" masked puppeteers.

The story of Jack and his disappearance ends up playing second fiddle to the minutiae of the brilliant puppetry. Whether this is a conscious shift isn't entirely clear and the development could do with a slight bit more signposting so as not to confuse the narrative. This should be easy to achieve as the fourth wall is already rubble by the end of the first sequence thanks to the puppet's fantastically frank dialogue with the audience. It's a shame that the overall arch doesn't feel quite finished by the end of the show, with the focus moving instead backstage and away from the actual play. Granted, the final scene is brilliant for recreating the camaraderie present in a cast of performers but feels very far removed from the initial plot.

Nonetheless, the show is an excellent exercise in puppetry and how it can convey more than pieces of levity. It might leave you feeling like you haven't seen enough, which is both frustrating in terms of the plot and a sign of a great ensemble cast.

Reviews by Louise Jones

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Performances

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The Blurb

Once upon a time in a far off imaginary place... a giant fell out of the sky. ‘There were roofs down, windows blown in', says Puppet Granny Tina Henderson, puffing on a Malboro Light. 'It wasnae funny.' The makers of Fringe First Award-winning show The Table, return to Edinburgh with a puppet-docudrama which tells the true story of Jack and the Beanstalk. They look behind the scenes and uncover a dark tale of gambling, greed, theft and murder. 'Dazzling' (Scotsman). 'A weird feel good delight' (Telegraph). 'Blind Summit are the UK's puppet masters' (Guardian).

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