Puppets manipulated by humans talking about sex could be viewed as some sort of weird voyeurism, fetish or even an odd fantasy reenactment.
But in Blind Summit's The Sex Lives of Puppets at Southwark Playhouse, when one puppet bluntly corrects her lover's grammar while they are sexting, it moves it beyond the realms of titillation into a rich, observational human comedy.
Performed by four puppeteers - Simon Scardifield, Mark Down, Isobel Griffiths and Dale Wylde - The Sex Lives of Puppets is a series of interviews with individual puppets or 'couples'.
Each interview has a particular subject to do with sex, with the question to be discussed written on a piece of brown cardboard and displayed to the audience.
What goes on behind closed doors between two consenting 'adults' is naturally fascinating, and there is enough variety of questions and 'personalities' to keep it interesting.
The first half concludes with a shadow puppet show that is visually graphic but done in an amusing way. It perhaps overstays the welcome of the level of laughter it elicits.
There is a different type of puppet show to conclude the second half - and the play - but that is better seen than described, except to say that it has an amusing gradual shift of direction.
Brilliantly performed in such a way, the puppets appear almost as human as the words they are(n't) speaking. What they have to say sharply highlights the individual nature of desire and sexual preference.
There are also tongue-in-cheek nods to the fact that it is a puppet show, which adds to the humour.
The Sex Lives of Puppets is a fun celebration of people and their sex lives, whatever shape that takes. It is cheeky, amusing and laugh-out-loud funny.
I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Want to read more about the show and co-writers/co-directors Mark Down and Ben Keaton? Read my interview here.
The Sex Lives of Puppets, Southwark Playhouse
Written by Mark Down and Ben Keaton.
Directed by Mark Down and Ben Keaton.
Performed by Simon Scardifield, Mark Down, Isobel Griffiths, Dale Wylde
Running time: 90 minutes, including an interval.
Booking until 13 January; for more information and to buy tickets, head to the Southwark Playhouse website.
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