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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Review: The Devil and Mister Punch by Improbable at the Barbican

A delightful Vaudeville inspired piece of theatre: featuring a host of fabulous characters surrounding the well known tale of Punch and Judy, including Messrs Harvey and Hovey.

Written by Amelia Gregory

The Devil and Mister Punch by Jane Mcguinness
The Devil and Mister Punch by Jane Mcguinness.

Following hot on the heels of some great puppetry at the London International Mime Festival, the Barbican is hosting the new show, The Devil and Mister Punch, from the renowned Improbable theatre company.

The Devil and Mister Punch
Founded in 1996 by four artistic directors, this production was put together by Julian Crouch and is based on an ongoing obsession with the tradition of Punch and Judy. Here he picks apart the darker aspects of this strangest of British traditions… I mean, think about it: a man who beats his daughter and his wife? A rampaging crocodile, here in the UK?!

Devil and Mister Punch croc
The Devil And Mr Punch_Bat and Mask by Gareth A Hopkins
The Devil And Mr Punch by Gareth A Hopkins.

An assortment of strange characters joins the more familiar cast, including dancing piglets, a typing dog, a singing bull and a scarily oversized Punch. The cliches of puppetry are picked apart with delightful knowing, the live folk music which accompanies the action is exquisite, the staging is incredibly clever and best of all it’s very funny!

The-Devil-and-Mr-Punch-by-Mat-Pringle
The Devil and Mister Punch by Mat Pringle.

The Devil and Mister Punch by Jason Lear
The Devil and Mister Punch by Jason Lear.

I can’t remember when I last saw a Punch and Judy show: just when it looks as though this strange tale may be in danger of dying out the Improbable performance is a timely reminder of the stories that have shaped our national psyche. Look out especially for the underwater scene and a body popping skeleton – some of the more surreal tangents ensure that not all of it makes sense, but The Devil and Mister Punch is a great way to spend an evening.

Devil and Mister Punch set
http://www.vimeo.com/32215539

The Devil and Mister Punch plays in The Pit until the 25th February and is a must see for anyone interested in history, morality or social mores as well as contemporary set design and staging. More details can be found on the Barbican website.

The Devil And Mr Punch_Gallows by Gareth A Hopkins
The Devil And Mr Punch by Gareth A Hopkins.

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