REVIEW: Us Puppeteers at the Nightingale

THE beast lurking underneath the surface of humanity was explored in an exciting new play this week.

Us Puppeteers, a new play written by Ella Thompson and created by Whitebox Collective, was performed at the Nightingale theatre, in Brighton, on Monday (February 20) and Tuesday (February 21).

On the surface the storyline is simple – Alec Birch has been murdered and William, whose role is never completely defined, is investigating his death.

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The introduction of the surreal and modern dance to express emotions, however, made this much more than just another Who-dunnit?.

At the start of the play, the tone was light with William trying on a variety of outfits to best manipulate, coerce and flirt with his suspects.

As he begins to loose control of his wardrobe he also starts to lose control of the interviews and is taken down a more dangerous and dark path than he ever imagined.

Then, the arrival of an unexpected visitor changes everything.

The rapid descent in to darkness in this play was cleverly handled by both cast and director.

Neil Turk was excellent as the investigator who becomes too involved in his case when he finds disturbing parallels between himself and the increasingly unsympathetic Alec (Ben Cassan).

The highlight for me, though, was Holly Kristina Calf’s portrayal of the child-like Leigh Hogdon.

Her combination of innocence and frustration was convincing throughout and her movements emphasised the impression of a child in a woman’s body.

The themes of abuse dealt with in this play may be upsetting and uncomfortable for some audiences.

It was, however, an interesting exploration of how far people will go for a forbidden pleasure, the fragility of the rules that govern society and how the actions of one man can destroy the lives of many.

Ella Thompson should be congratulated for creating a thought-provoking and surprising piece of theatre.