Forget Punch and Judy – puppetry’s come a long way in recent years as evidenced by the programme for Suspense, the second ever London Puppetry Festival. With 30 companies bringing shows to 11 venues (from The V&A and The Roundhouse to puppetry stalwart The Little Angel Theatre) and with work from Iran, Georgia, Austria and the USA complementing the best of British, there’s a dizzyingly diverse array of attractions on offer.
It all kicks off today and runs until next Sunday, and includes not just puppet shows (from the more traditional to the cutting-edge) but also talks, workshops, dance, films and even a puppet cabaret to round off the week.
Events that jump out include Little Edie, the tale of a would-be socialite who dances her days away in the crumbling mansion she shares with her mother, shadow puppet drama in The Invisible Cities of Margharita Monticiano and Plucked – a true fairytale enticing not only for its weird, unnerving imagery but also the strapline: “Pull from your loins a nest of twigs, beware the wolf-man and the raven too!”
There’s also Passing On, an exploration of how we die based on a person’s last hours in hospital, a puppetry weekend at The V&A, The House of Bernard Alba by Tehran-based company Yas-e-Tamam – a politically-charged tragedy about trust and loyalty – and Autumn Portraits a piece involving a series of mature characters interacting with their puppeteers, excerpts of which are shown in this video.