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The Crack Magazine

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Cabaret of Curiosities at Newcastle Arts Centre

Cabaret of Curiosities: Tatwood Puppets, 

Black Swan, Newcastle Arts Centre

Newcastle based Tatwood Puppets brought their ribald repertoire/gothic comedy show to Newcastle Art Centre’s underground pub for a modern reimagining of the traditional booth show, set to original live music, performed by Kerrin Tatman and Rosie Bristow (of Holy Moly & the Crackers). The show's premise is that Horatio, a dapper velvet suit-wearing hare, is on the search for new acts for his Cabinet of Curiosity show. As we witness the vaudeville-inspired auditions, we meet some intriguing characters such as the Plant Whisperer – whose tendrils magically trail from the stage as she seductively strokes Horatio’s arm with her delicate hand/leaves – and the mild-mannered Squid Tamer who meekly asks the squid to ‘Stop that!’ But just as Horatio is about to sign up each one, they meet a mysterious and gruesome puppet end. Horatio Hare is very charismatic and a very funny narrator: ‘For fuck’s sake’ he mutters when all the acts keep disappearing – this is not a puppet show for children. (Spoiler alert: turns out that Count Ocular, a magician with a giant eyeball for a head, has been bumping off the acts.) Because of the skilled puppetry and expert movement, we soon forgot that humans were manipulating the puppets and bringing them to life. The sold-out alternative Halloween show was great fun and there was never a dull moment with plenty of (non-threatening) audience participation. I'm looking forward to further theatrical revelry when Newcastle Puppetry Festival returns in the spring of 2023.