Who would have thought a block of foam could be so expressive? Bruce is one of those weird finds at the Fringe which looks like it should be absolutely ridiculous but turns out to be exciting and inspired, whilst retaining the fact that it’s still, unashamedly, absolutely ridiculous. Performed by two men in black lycra suits, Bruce is a story of love, adventure and time-travel, all told by two white gloves and one yellow sponge.
“a Nolan-esque sci-fi story with bucketloads of foreshadowing and intelligent plotting”
The versatility and ingenuity on display in Bruce is extremely impressive. Done with only the voices of the performers, this one prop takes on many different characters with hugely different mannerisms and characterisations. It’s a puppet show of epic proportions, not settling for the usual linear stories present in puppetry, instead opting for a Nolan-esque sci-fi story with bucketloads of foreshadowing and intelligent plotting. Puppetry aside, the story in itself is clever enough to sustain a show, with a giddying moment of realisation and revelation showing co-creators Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd to be genius storytellers.
Despite being a puppet show, Bruce is certainly not a children’s show. At times, the show strays into realms of perhaps unnecessary crudity. Moments are successful, a heroin-induced trip proves particularly entertaining, but other moments fall a little flat in comparison to the intelligent stage work and writing present throughout the rest of the performance.
A special mention must go to the extraordinarily talented Tim Watts, who voice acts all the different characters in Bruce with incredible range. Constantly going back and forth between characters in conversation, especially when they’re vocally vastly different characters, is a tough ask, but Watts pulls it off in impressive style, all while controlling the central puppet.
Bruce is an amazing, innovative performance by The Last Great Hunt. Creating an interesting, engaging puppet show for adults is a feat in itself, put to pull it off with this much charm and precision is simply extraordinary.
Underbelly Cowgate, 3rd – 27th August (not 14th), 18:40
Image: The Last Great Hunt