All the way through The Great Puppet Horn’s Pangolin’s Teatime, it’s very difficult to get a sense of what‘s coming next. Sure, there’s giant piles of cardboard on either side of a rectangular screen. There’s also Jeremy Bidgood and Lewis Young, the guys who write and perform the show, sitting behind the screen after heading up the aisle in a choreographed routine making loud and enticing noises. But this is a puppet theatre show, and when the only thing faster than the pacing is the speed at which the puppets get thrown from the stage, all you can do is keep up and enjoy what’s (sometimes literally) heading your way.
The whole hour-long show is presented through the rectangular screen mentioned earlier. The puppets are presented in silhouette, giving the performers lots of room for creative thinking. A projector hidden at the back allows for the scene to be changed rapidly and frequently, as well as opening the scope to some excellent picture gags. The performers also happily burst into song at every possible opportunity, which adds to the sense of charm. Despite the simple set-up, the complexity of some of the puppets and scenes is pretty impressive, especially considering the average break between scenes was about five seconds.
There’s a tonne of characters too. David Cameron leads the coalition government on a cutting spree, while Nick Clegg goes his best to stop him (his best, of course, being not very good at all). Meanwhile, there’s ’Grammar Cop’, a hilarious spoof law enforcement officer, who only really cares that criminal’s (I mean criminals!) get their punctuation up to scratch. The highlight, though, is probably the polar bear who tries to emigrate to the UK, but finds that being British isn’t quite as easy as it seems when you have to get through immigration.
Pangolin’s Teatime pokes fun at inequality, class and popular culture. It riffs on events of the past and uses them to mock people in the news right now. The quality of the performance and writing really stands out for this show. It follows on from a tradition the likes of Spitting Image or 2D-TV made so popular – great animated political satire. I’d happily go see this show again, and it’ll be really interesting to see what these guys do over the next few years. It’s easy to say that though – any show that features an in-joke for people who’ve read Ulysses will leave me raving.
The Great Puppet Horn’s Pangolin’s Teatime was part of VAULT Festival.