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Hijinx Theatre - Meet Fred

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Hijinx Theatre - Meet Fred

 

Total Theatre Review

by Marigold Hughes

 

Fred’s time has come. It comes to us all, sooner or later – the time when we realise who we are and what we are made of. Fred? Well, he’s a puppet. Stitched from canvas, stuffing and seams. Fred spots bigger hands behind his own – shocking! He sees giant fingers wrapped around his feet – untenable!  Nimbly executed and extremely funny, a battle ensues between puppeteers and puppet as Fred struggles against this control and realises that he is, quite literally, in the hands of others.

 

Hijinx produces work with actors with learning disabilities – and both learning disabled and non learning disabled actors perform in Meet Fred. With blade sharp wit and acute mastery of form, Hijinx – in association with the current masters of contemporary puppetry, Blind Summit – draw on puppetry conventions to illustrate the metaphorical strings (he’s actually a rod puppet) that manipulate Fred.  The echoes between him and the lives of the learning disabled performers are clear:  Fred is not the only one who is being manipulated.

 

The director, Ben Pettitt-Wade, in role as ‘the director’, a version of himself, tells Fred that he is in a show: a show that is all about him. Fred asks to see the script, Ben tells him that he doesn’t need one – that it is his life.  Fred finds himself in the Job Centre where the officious employee, played by Richard Newham, instructs him to take a job – the options: Removal man? Hardly ideal for a three-foot tall puppet. Swimming instructor? Canvas and water don’t mix. Children’s entertainer? How patronising!  The dialogue is swift and smart. Fred is no angel – his quick-witted profanities ensure that the piece is refreshing unwholesome and steers far away from any temptation to infantalise disability. Or puppets. Hijinx display a hugely impressive command of theatricality, with moments of real genius – and Dan McGowan, Morgan Thomas and Craig Quat bring Fred to life with seamless dexterity and flair.

 

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Broadway Baby Review

by Jamie P Robson

*****

 

We meet Fred as he wakes up - cute little puppet stretching and yawns ensue. But it’s when the lovable little puppet you see standing onstage begins to realise there are three pairs of hands attached to him, screams in terror, tries desperately to detach them from himself then gives up, deflated, that we get the first hint of Meet Fred’s modus operandi: self-aware and visually inventive comedy seasoned with a hint of existentialism.

 

Meet Fred is an ingeniously conceived, hilarious and truly unmissable piece of theatre.

 

As if one existential crisis weren’t enough, within a few minutes Fred notices a nearby script entitled Meet Fred. It turns out Fred is the unwitting star of his very own play - which comes complete with a maddeningly cheery children’s TV-style theme tune - and expected to follow a script he’s never even read. Over the course of the play, Fred has to survive encounters with the job centre, dating, drinking and even his maker. There are scenarios planned out and orchestrated by the director, who’s more concerned with making important theatre than looking out for his leading man-puppet.

 

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TICKETS INFO

29 March 2017 –

TICKET PRICES: £12 / £10 Concs. / £8 Students

SHOW DURATION: 80 minutes (plus post-show Q&A)

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