If anything, the moral quagmire that threatens to engulf wee Malcolm Biggar (aged nine and three quarters) is even closer to home – and today's hectic headlines – than it was five years ago.
So while we guffaw at the savage humour that delivers our gormless, hapless hero into the clutches of predatory, pervy immigrants – landlord Jerko Dreich and his mad, conniving old mother – or chortle at the venomous outpourings of Malcolm's hostile, neglectful parents, on reflection it's hard to shrug off the twisted scenarios devised by Jamie Harrison and Candice Edmunds as bizarrely far-fetched, or fantastical. The only improbable twist here is the crude oil gushing out of the Biggars' cludgie.
Serving up such a gleefully scatological black comedy is not an easy proposition, but the Vox Motus style of puppet-play – where live performers inhabit pint-sized, over-stuffed squashy torsos – allows individual characters the physical oddities of a comic-strip alongside the persuasive spontaneity of facial expressions, hand gestures and well-timed lines. If James Young is just the dab as Malcolm – an innocent about to be tarnished by a greedy, amoral adult world – the supporting four-strong cast are also outstanding, whether acting in character or seamlessly arranging the pop-up cut-out sets that lurk inside the on-stage boxes. If you missed this gem in 2008, never fear – as Slick rounds off a tremendous Manipulate season, it begins a busy Scottish tour.