Review: Potty the Plant, Little Big Stack, Ed Fringe, By Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

It could entirely be a coincidence that I feel there has been a lot of puppetry this year at Fringe. Not that I’m complaining – there is something naughty yet comical about turning cute, cuddly puppets into something darkly comical.

Potty the Plant, taking on the adult puppet movement seen by Avenue Q, is the story of anthropomorphic plant in a doctor’s surgery, who helps to uncover the mystery of missing children but also explores his unrequited love for the nurse.

The staging itself is extremely professional – a whole set has been created to create the surgery feel, still using elements such as a bed pan or a wheelchair when a new scene is created, giving that satirical nod to amateur theatre but also not investing too much is lots of extras. The costumes are simple, just where they need to be, with a fancy-dress-esque approach to Dr Acula’s costume as our undercover vampire. The comparison between this less polished aspect to the very well created set only adds to the comedy.

The songs are well constructed and performed very well, drawing satire from musicals and from the narrative with ease. They have adult aspects to them and this is of course comical and in line with this adult approach. The performers are perfection, without a step wrong and the whole performance runs smooth as butter.

Potty is also well created, adorable and cute. Sat mostly on the table, further comedy is drawn from his handler, stuffed under the table and when they bring him out and on stage for another scene, he plays a part so well, as if he isn’t there but also, fully in character. Potty as a puppet is limited to his reactions and facial expressions, but, somehow, the puppeteer does this so well, using silence, beats and a little over-exaggeration which at times makes his reactions very clear but sometimes it’s a real subtle look that you can just tell is there. These in themselves provide endless humour.

However, the narrative felt a little lost to me. As the name of the show, Potty features only minimal in the story-line. Of course, it needs to be set somewhere and I guess it makes sense in a doctor’s office. But when they go on a true crime spree, detecting the story behind the missing children, the nurses dating life and lack of success, it all feels quite mismatched and almost another story, with Potty just a small accessory. It felt as if more could have been made about Potty, his story being told a lot more and him having more of a spotlight in the performance.

Potty the Plant is a fun concept, dark and full of humour. It’s a good production to see and recommended if you’re looking for something easy and to sit back to watch. It only felt that Potty wasn’t our main star and that the story needed to work out what it really wanted to be about.

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