The Three Deaths of Ebony Black (4 stars)

The Three Deaths of Ebony Black

Mark Gambino

A DIY puppet comedy with a message of kindness

This is a lo-fi Tim Burton meets The Muppets-style play, featuring handmade, little old lady stick-puppets doing 'The Macarena' and 'Thriller', with an anti-capitalist message running through its comedy plot. A team of two Australian puppeteers dressed in black gets increasingly inventive with ways to bring several characters onstage all at the same time, to tell the tale of elderly Ebony Black, her death and its aftermath.

There's money left in Ebony's will, which brings out the evil side in her (already pretty nasty) twin, Ivory, as well as her money-grabbing, entrepreneurial and real estate-obsessed niece and nephew. Clementine is a nine-year-old having an existential crisis, with she and a kindly nurse called Pearl representing the more benevolent end of humanity; they're trying to find a little kindness in the world, and both dream of a slightly less ruthless society. As well as focusing on funerals and death, The Three Deaths of Ebony Black is a story that looks at what a well-lived life means to different people. An often ridiculous play that would suit children and adults, it's like a handmade miniature panto with a lot of heart, a few well-recovered mistakes, and an underwater scene.

Underbelly Bristo Square, until 26 Aug, 4.30pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).

The Three Deaths of Ebony Black

  • 4 stars

Lee Martin for Gag Reflex A critically acclaimed puppet musical, inspired by a neuroscientist. 'There are three deaths: the first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time'.

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