Fri 2 Jun 2017
The headache-inducing flyer for the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre is a riot of Tartan, mismatched fonts and neon, designed to stress out the most resilient of minds. It is surprising, then, that arriving in Eden Court’s Onetouch Theatre, a lonely one-man puppet booth is set up in the middle of the stage, with no attempt to fill the rest. Covered in tartan fabric, simply lit and without curtain, it suggests the immediacy and low tech charm of Punch and Judy while falsetto-voiced-over tracks get the sock treatment. Queen’s classic tune becomes ‘We Will Sock You’, for example. So far so good.
The sock puppets arrive and it soon becomes evident that there really is only one performer: comedian and comic book creator Kev F. Sutherland, author of Bash Street Kids Adventures and creator of The Sitcom Trials. And he does have a huge amount of energy, oscillating between songs, comedy props like flip-over posters which hang beneath the puppets and (mostly successful) attempts at audience participation. This particular audience is swallowed by the large space, and us Highlanders are generally more reticent than a well-greased crowd of staggering students in a late-night Fringe venue. In general, this discord perhaps lies at the heart of why the show feels at times like an uphill struggle: this show, with its (often profanity-strewn) lightning speed dialogue laden and speedy cultural references, perhaps needed a tighter, more intimate space. To his credit, the performer improvises with ease and is at his best when things don’t go quite to plan, winning the audience over with catchy songs and a fantastic Richard the Third ‘My kingdom for a horse’ routine. The first part serves as a warm up, although it feels strange to be given a 20 minute interval a mere thirty-three minutes into the show (yes, I checked!). There is much that is entertaining: a wild array of props and mini-costumes, the wordplay and the regular references to sock limitations (‘I’ve had it up to here with you!’ ‘Up to where?’ Pause. ‘As a sock, I can’t adequately demonstrate up to where I have had it.’)
While there is genuine appreciation at the physical feat of such a relentlessly energetic performance, Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre is probably best served in a different kind of space. The staggering students squashed into an intimate pub type of space. They’d sock it.