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Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
Published on Wednesday, 23 May 2012

2 stars

Iambic Arts Theatre (venue website)
22 May, 7:00pm-8:00pm; 23 May, 3:00pm-4:00pm; 24 May, 3:00pm-4:00pm, 7:00pm-8:00pm
Reviewed by Darren Taffinder

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.
 Warning: Contains flashing lights.
 2-for-1 tickets for Friends of the Fringe members.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is a puppet show based on the 1958 B movie – a movie I remember seeing on Channel 4, during a school trip as a late teen. It’s a campy, low-budget story about Nancy, a downtrodden heiress, who gets abducted by aliens while driving through the Californian desert late one night. As a result of her close encounter, she grows in size, and stomps off to seek revenge on her Don Draper-like husband and his mistress. I’m sure there’s a subtext about male fears of female empowerment in there somewhere… but I just really enjoyed the idea of a giant woman wrecking havoc on a small town.

Technically, the show by Croon Productions is great. They use a variety of very clever and innovative methods of puppetry to tell the story, including marionettes, shadow puppets and masks. I was especially impressed with how they used the shadow puppets to create a sense of growing tension. And I really liked the finale, when the life-size 50 foot woman stomped through the set.

However, it’s a bit like a summer blockbuster where the special effects are superb, but the story is lacking. Too be honest, it wasn’t so much a story, more a series of set pieces – a join-the-dots style of storytelling. Just because a show is being told by puppets doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have clear motivations and a narrative arc.

I’m not even quite sure what was going on during parts of the second half, which seemed rushed compared to the slower, almost glacial, first twenty minutes. Pacing was a real problem, with too many unanswered questions. Also, at forty minutes, it felt far too short, and at the end we weren’t sure whether the show had finished or if it was having an intermission. It’s not they should pad it out for extra twenty minutes – it’s more that I felt it wasn’t a complete experience.

The shame is that it they really do have some great ideas, but great ideas are not sufficient. We go to the theatre to see stories – and in this case, the show just didn’t deliver story enough.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.