The Sex Lives of Puppets


From pet names for genitals to talk of venereal diseases killing the moment, The Sex Lives of Puppets constantly veers between the tender and the fearsome.

The beautifully sculpted heads of Blind Summit’s puppets are adult size from which the little bodies dangle, making us concentrate not only on the intensity of the words emanating from the head, but the ridiculousness of the tiny dolls’ bodies doing all the rude things they are talking about.  The performance becomes a comment on the frequent risibility of sexual acts.

The script the puppets speak is taken from the transcripts of interviews conducted by sex researchers who talked to people about their sex lives.

The show ranges across the sexualities and ages of sexual experience, so we have the young, working class, mixed ethnicity lesbian astonished by her white girlfriend who thinks a blob of goo from her vagina is a virgin birth ‘Is it a jellyfish or something that, like, is going to save the world?’

Class is no barrier in the really freaky sex stakes as we see with a posh lady and her financier husband ‘I wank him orf’ she says, while he feels the need to get down on all fours and purr like a cat.

Meanwhile in the care home a man who has been married for 40 years discovers his gay side and delights in blow jobs with his teeth in a glass by the bed.  Sex has never been weirder than in the presence of randy puppets.

There is puppet sex but also puppet love, not least in the couple who are relieved they don’t have to have sex every Friday night anymore: cocoa and a book and just being together are enough.

More unpleasantly, a crude man is angry that the news of his wife’s cancer had interrupted his bachelor weekend with a roomful of his mates and four prostitutes.

The climax of ‘extreme puppetry’ is the orgy in which a riot of white, stringy or plump puppet flesh gets mashed into each other.

This is an uproariously funny but also a touching and engagingly human production, allowing a concentrated gaze at the reality of human life by filtering it thorough these expertly created and manipulated mannikins.

The puppeteers are dressed in black as is customary but usually the manipulators would perform in front of a black screen so as to minimise the human presence.  In The Sex Lives of Puppets the puppeteers work on a white table in front of a white screen.  It is clearly a deliberate artistic decision to do so, I don’t think the right one.  Nevertheless, this is a hilarious and touching theatrical experience.