We are seated in a lounge with a black curtain strung across, the puppetry screen swathed by red velveted fabric to give that nostalgic 1950s musical aesthetic. Emma Katene sings softly as the audience gets settled, making up songs when she runs out of covers. It sets a fun and relaxing atmosphere. But then, the show begins and a frock-coated and top-hatted bedecked man kazoos into the lounge, buzzing the Moana theme song through the instrument before standing at the front, welcoming us to the show. This figure is Luke Scott, the incredible prop and costume designer for Horse With No Name has been given his own show to highlight his brilliance with shadow puppetry. Playing a version of himself, his demeanour is a little shy yet inviting as he bumbles through a wandering, yet brief monologue. He kazoos behind the curtain and the lights go out. Here we go!
I don’t want to give away too much of the show as every moment is an absolute joy but it consists of three different skits, all written and directed by Catriona Tipene and Ryan Cundy. Their wit, absurdism, and emotion-laden whimsy has the audience in the palms of their hands, or perhaps the shadows of their puppets. The first skit is about two lovers and some koi fish, the second about love and caring, loss and leaving. The third is about a Lord of the Rings trip gone awry.
Every moment is a reaction: a gasp of tenderness as a bird takes flight, a gulping choke of a laugh from an unexpected movie reference, a groaning ‘Oh no,’ as Eli, an aquarium worker, warbles his anti-koi manifesto while creating a diabolical plan against his fishy nemesis.
The voice acting abilities of Alexander Sparrow, Catriona Tipene, Katie Boyle, Emma Katene, and Kate Anderson bring the characters to life. I am impressed with how full the characters sound, vocal intonations working perfectly in sync with the puppetry we see before us.
The puppetry itself was just incredible. The use of moving the puppets closer and further away from the light source creating different shadow effects, helping convey emotion on otherwise blank faces is utilised spectacularly. It is also used to great comedic effect. There are fun effects used, such as smoke and moving shadow puppets through each other. One of my favourite moments is watching a fish eat a series of food items and seeing as they come out the other end skeletonised. I can’t help but laugh uproariously at thisese moments, I hope I didn’t disturb anyone in the small space too much!
When the show ends, I have a ridiculous, big happy smile on my face. This is what Fringe is supposed to be about, I think to myself. A bunch of talented people doing everything in their power to show their art. This show was in a flat with effective but minimal staging. The writing was solid, hilarious, and at times heart-wrenching. The puppetry is stunning and completely engrossing, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from what was happening unless it was wiping them from laughter. And this show is koha! How?! Luke Scott’s Little Theatre of Big Dreams reinvigorated my excitement for Fringe Festival, this show hooks you and reels you in from beginning to end and made me an even bigger fangirl of Horse With No Name. Luke Scott’s Little Theatre of Big Dreams certainly lived up to its name and it was a dream I was sad to wake up from.
Luke Scott’s Little Theatre of Big Dreams is on until Saturday the 14th of March. Unfortunately it appears to be sold out, but you can check here.