Theatre: The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

COMEDIC sock puppets may not sound like the normal brand of humour we usually have visiting Aberystwyth Arts Centre, but please bear with me. Created by Kev Sutherland (creator of The Sitcom Trails) the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre is exactly what it says on the tin. This unique concept has wowed audiences since 2007 at the Edinburgh Fringe and has toured both nationally and internationally. This is in fact their second Aberystwyth performance. They have also graced television, including The One Show, GMTV and Big Brother’s Little Brother.

The show’s set up is basic, a tartan puppet theatre surrounded by chairs; underneath is Sutherland, the only comedian who waits on stage for his audience to arrive. However, due to the socks great stage presence you soon forget he’s there at all. From the beginning Sutherland’s clever character construction is evident; one sock is determined to have a professional show to demonstrate his acting talent. While the other just wants to sing and make rude jokes. It is a great reworking of the odd couple routine, just with socks. It is amazing that Sutherland can portray these opposite personalities at the same time using the same voice, with only his hand movement to differentiate between the two.

The brand of humour Sutherland deploys is a mixture of wordplay, miscommunication and misunderstandings. The puppets argue over the shows content and the meaning of certain words, among other things. Their bickering only makes them appear more human, furthering your disbelief about this being a one man show. Especially when Sutherland begins to adlib. While some lines do fall flat, when it works (which it often did) it was hilarious. It displays the true scope of his comedic talents that he is able to improvise and work the puppets at the same time. Each shows comedy is built around a theme and ours, in fitting with the season, was horror. We were treated to sketches and songs based upon the most famous horror stories, including Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Although what impressed me the most was the audience participation. If you’ve ever been picked out during a performance you know how embarrassing it can be. Well, imagine what it feels like to have a conversation with a sock, which somehow seems to knows exactly where you’re sitting.

Some sketches did fall rather flat due to a number of forgotten and mis-said lines, which if Sutherland had not pointed them out would probably gone unnoticed. Yet, by doing so he not only revealed himself to be slightly unprepared but also broke the illusion he had so carefully built up. This lack of preparation also reared its ugly head in a number of sketches, which had clearly been written for this summers Fringe festival and have now lost their relevance. Finally, the show slightly staggered when Sutherland realised he was missing a prop. While this was an annoying delay in the action, he was able to work through it and it was quite fun to pretend a cartoon cat was Anne Robinson.

Overall, the two-hour show was definitely worth the ten-pound ticket. If Sutherland does return to the Aberystwyth-bubble, I’ll be straight to the box office and I urge you to do the same. If this review has tickled your fancy then there are a large number of sock-based sketches on Sutherland’s Youtube channel – Kev Sutherland.