The Tom Waits track Goin’ Out West plays as the three puppeteers enter the stage. They then pull out Mikey. He is our protagonist for this afternoon’s performance of The Hit. Mikey is a small puppet who looks like he’s had his nose broken on several occasions. He is bald, bold and cocky. One puppeteer operates his left arm and head, another his right arm and back and the third puppeteer operates his legs. Despite being small he has a lot of dexterity and the puppet is enthused with character and charm.
The story of The Hit takes its influence from cognitive dissonance and how the brain makes decisions. The show was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the research that has gone into the project is presented within the narrative of the show. Early on in The Hit we see Mikey in a steam room. Here he meets a man who explains cognitive dissonance to him. This section of the show is visually stunning. Smoke bellows out from the sparse set and we are taken to sweaty and soggy steam room. The play itself is very text heavy with Mikey narrating the entire story. This reliance on the spoken word is disappointing, as mentioned earlier the puppeteers bestow a lot of emotion and movement into the character. As The Hit progresses we are taken to new locations and meet other interesting characters (all re-created through the persona of Mikey). A story about picking out a baby monitor in ToysRUs is funny, bleak and filled with dry wit.
With The Hit Strangeface have created an interesting puppetry show that has inventively tackled a massive subject area. The character of Mikey does feel like a bit too much of a New York gangster cliche to make the show an absolute classic, but if you love inventive puppetry and smart comedy then The Hit will be a fine way to spend an early afternoon at the Edinburgh Fringe.