Punch and Judy review in the Scotsman

Punch and Judy review in the Scotsman 15/08/04 by Joyce MacMillan.

The Tiger Lillies - Punch and Judy 


POD DECO (Venue 75)

WHEN the Tiger Lillies? formidable, vicious song-cycle on the theme of

Punch and Judy premiered in Germany earlier this year it was presented

as a powerful piece of main-stage drama, with three or four singing

characters and a massive set designed to expose the interface between

"ordinary" domestic violence and the career as a mass murderer which,

in the Tiger Lillies? vision, Punch carves for himself.

Here in Edinburgh, though, the show appears on a small puppet-theatre

set, as something more like a solo performance from the Tiger Lillies?

founding genius, Martin Jacques, backed by his two musician-partners, a

female puppeteer and live and filmed puppet sequences that add an eerie

dimension of toyshop-macabre to the show.

There?s no reason this simple cabaret style shouldn?t work well as a

way of presenting the material. But in practice, with Jacques shuffling

around the stage in a huge Punch costume, and shrieking out almost

every song in the same ferocious vocal style, it becomes a shade

confusing and undramatic, the story rolled into a ball of blood-red

sensation and hurled at the audience, rather than teased out into a

full-scale drama that might actually engage us with issues raised about

sanity, responsibility for crime and the overwhelming self-pity of the

psychopathic mind.

What survives, though, is the savage brilliance of the score and

lyrics, co-written by Jacques and the Tiger Lillies. There are levels

of energy, power and wit in the words and music that few Fringe

companies can match, but they are waiting for a more sympathetic, more

thoughtfully staged production to do them justice.