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4 STAR review in The List...

When the puppeteer notices his strings

After the success of The Table, which was all about the puppet, Blind Summitt have turned their attention to the puppeteer Luke who, like artistic director and performer Mark Down, is reflecting on how his process reflects his life experience. Luke is battling with the aftermath of the death of his absent father and an ongoing conflict with his partner about having children - something that undermined previous relationships - and the puppet Henry, accompanied by bin-bags representing sadness and misery, emerges to hover over the artist, begging for release.

The format - a pretend masterclass - allows Down to enjoy the caricature of the aging director: full of professional arrogance and personal weaknesses, he admits to using the workshop to discover what his next production might be and his assistants, clad in Bunraku black, are the victims of his irritation and collaborators in his self-investigation. Luke is not quite the artist he imagines himself to be: many of his ideas are second-hand (the use of Philip Glass for emotional moments, the familiar props from Shakespeare that he turns into objects for manipulation) and his dramaturgy becomes a word-salad of vague concepts that only come to life through the hard work of the assistants.

Down, however, sends up the stereotype gleefully, even lending Luke a vulnerability and charm and the brief moments of Henry's appearance speak of the company's familiar sensitivity for powerful visual theatre. Performed alongside The Table, Henry covers the aesthetics and potential of Blind Summitt's commitment to 'extreme puppetry' in a witty, if cerebral, meta-theatricality that entertains while it educates.

Gareth Vile

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