Feral (3 stars)

This article is from 2013


credit: Andy Caitlin

Lovely puppetry, inventiveness and enthusiastic puppeteers makes up for some thematic shortcomings

Tortoise In A Nutshell are a multimedia company who build puppets from scratch and project them onto large screens. Feral takes a serious look at social problems: a controversial new 'supercade' has opened up in an Anywhere town, creating an anti-consumer backlash. It has failed to provide as many jobs as promised. Cue anarchy in the streets. What can be done?

This little study in small-town dysfunction has much going for it – an endearing DIY spirit, cute set-pieces and figures and a nod to children's TV. There are wonderful moments, including lead characters Dawn and Joe's forays into the fairground and a photo booth, and witty little shops with names like The Pre-Victorian Light Emporium; but it struggles when depicting bigger themes of poverty, crime, unemployment and capitalism. It is simply too polite: too childish for adults and too grown-up for kids.

The sound is tinny and the music a little grating, but the lovely puppetry, inventiveness and enthusiasm of the puppeteers more than make up for such shortcomings. A little uneven, but not without its charms and a bighearted message at the centre.

Summerhall, 0845 874 3001, Until Aug 25 (not 13,20), 8pm, £9

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