The Cock and Bull’s
With just two actors and two chairs on stage, everything is performed in this madcap, frantic style
The performance begins with Ian and his boss, played by a sock puppet, in their office. Later Ian meets his co-workers, played by opposite sides of a ball on a stick. Ian goes on to act alongside several puppets (and occasionally a character in a mask).
With just two actors and two chairs on stage, everything is performed in this madcap, frantic style. The actors do a great job of distinguishing between characters, the quick-fire script itself creatively written and Ian having a wonderfully bemused and dumbfounded expression throughout. As the story continues with Ian murdering his co-workers and entering the Harton commune (think The Prisoner meets The Wicker Man meets Hot Fuzz-esque weirdness) the plot gets stranger, with even more characters being introduced and the conspiracy surrounding the mysterious “Uncle” beginning. It should be said that there’s something both remarkably funny and disturbing about watching someone “murdering” puppets on stage in surprisingly visceral ways. The actors do a great job of comedically establishing a sense of place, and the puppets are imaginatively designed and performed.
While the first two acts are fun and silly, the third act does drag a little as the nuisance of a plot has to enter the otherwise anarchic nature of the script, with exposition taking the place of comedy. Not every joke hits home but nothing ever feels awkward because the action moves from one thing to the next without pause. The play makes it clear right from the beginning that this is not a performance that treats itself seriously, with plenty of meta-jokes poking fun at its own small budget and production values. Nonetheless, the performances are fun, and the story is suitably absurd for a free late night show in a bar. A fun effort from a crime puppet comedy drama.