The format for Famous Puppet Death Scenes is simple. We see a diverse assortment of puppets take to the stage and witness how these unassuming puppets meet their unfortunate and at times gruesome deaths. The evening is hosted by compere and fellow puppet Nathaniel Tweak and he makes sure that we know we are watching scenes from some of the greatest puppet shows in history. Famous Puppet Death Scenes is a slapstick comedy show in the same vein as an episode of Tom and Jerry or an old school Warner Brother’s cartoon. Violence and absurdity is the name of the game and the audience lap up the puppet cruelty.
The performance space is set up with three miniature stages and it is on these stages that the carnage begins. We see a series of scenes, each of a different length and puppetry style. Puppets get squashed by large hands, eaten by gigantic monsters, fall from staircases and shot in the head. There is no mercy in Famous Puppet Death Scenes only anarchy and gruesome fun.
We mostly witness rod style puppets with the puppeteers lurking below the characters and maneuvering them in a variety of over the top methods. At no point do the puppeteers look to conceal themselves and make us believe they are actually manipulating anything other than little manufactured characters. This ramshackle approach adds to the comedy and madness that is onstage and makes the performance feel impulsive and unrehearsed.
Some deaths work better than others and at times the laughs from the audience are rather muted. There is a surreal like edge to Famous Puppet Death Scenes and some of the sketches are too bizarre for their own good. Our host Nathaniel Tweak attempts to bring proceedings to a closer, but it isn’t exactly a spoiler to imagine what happens to our puppet narrator, before we see one final death scene and the conclusion to fun and madness.