It’s always astounding how much animation can come from what are essentially, socks. It feels as though these two puppets can actually see us, and suspending disbelief that there’s a human being lurking behind the facade is pretty easy, even despite the “fourth wall” being continually broken. There’s a nostalgia in it too, reminiscent of simpler, less technologically advanced times. Of course, entertaining a room of people for an hour does require more than a retro gimmick and here it combines with comedy, singing and the satire of high brow theatre in a low brow format.
This show must nail just about every Shakespearean pun possible, especially when it comes to character names. There’s some clever jokes but also a great deal that have us groaning, so it’s a mixture of predictable cliches and astute observations (one of the latter being a reference to audience members enjoying flaunting a little knowledge of Shakespeare – a glorious put down on pretension).
Given the dexterity required behind the scenes to pull this off, performing this show is an impressive feat from the clearly very talented Kev F Sutherland (although in terms of audience enjoyment, it’s irrelevant whether there’s one man or a small team working away behind the screen). While the show is scripted, he throws in a fair amount of improvised banter which is witty every time. “Costume changes” (yes, the socks wear costumes) are a lot of fun too, contributing a great deal to the comedy and personality of the piece, especially in the way they reflect the theme.
The scripted jokes are at times obvious, repetitive and hackneyed, although as with all comedy this can be a matter of taste. There’s no doubt though that The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre delivers a funny and entertaining show that has been – and looks set to stay – popular at the Fringe for many years.