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A Wild Growling Happiness, Traverse, Edinburgh

There are twists upon twists upon twists in this lively, good-natured puppet piece from Estonia's Nuku Theatre – the trick being that those twists are what shape sheets of white cloth into uncannily convincing human figures .

And, just as the four female puppeteers are nicely different in their own stage characters, so too are the cloth-people they fashion with such swift dexterity. Some are short and bulbous, others very tall and exceedingly lanky – it's all in the twisting and folding that these members of the Estonian State Puppet & Youth Theatre make look so artlessly easy. Child's play, in fact. And that playful sense of larking about, letting one's imagination invest objects with different identities, functions, even life, is what connects the various episodes that, as it were, unfold.

Taken simply at face value, there's much to enjoy and admire in the games of flirtation, power struggles and one-up-manship that are portrayed through the cunning body language that animates the puppets so persuasively. Props are few – mostly shoes, used to suggest gender or stylishness – but the vocalisings and chatterings help to colour in the various contexts. Just as well, really, because the English translations of the dialogue are (because of cloths dropping in from above) tucked away to one side. These not only tell a very nuanced story of mankind's evolution, of aspirations, his inevitable death and his life-affirming dreaming too, they also reveal chucklesome in-jokes and degrees of whimsy that didn't quite translate in the action, while the live percussionists' bursts of laughter were a clue that some witty improvisation was being twisted into the material as well.


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