I enjoyed Paul Zerdin’s No Strings comedy puppetry show but only just.
Don’t get me wrong; this act safely gets four stars; the potential problem came with the audience involvement. My partner and I, forced to sit very near the front by newbie Gilded Balloon staff, were next to the couple that Zerdin lured up to stage.
The audience participation part of the show, which is right at the end, involves the brave couple that the ventriloquist controls and effectively produces two human puppets (no strings). I would have hated it if it had been me. Instead I laughed at the funny bits and the couple on stage played along like troopers. They were brilliant.
No Strings is a mix of three things – the first is the combination of puppetry with ventriloquism, the second comedy and third is technology. The great thing is that the technology is understated. It just works, looks impressive and is easy to miss.
You’ll see what I mean at the start of the gig when the old man puppet Albert comes on by himself without the puppet master in sight (again, no strings). It’s clever. It works. I do wonder whether punters at the back of the Nightclub in the Gilded Balloon can see, though.
Zerdin’s main alter ego is Sam; a cheeky young puppet boy. He reflects Zerdin’s humour – debating whether or not Zerdin is gay or not. I laughed, the banter was amusing and only a part of my politically correct concerns stirred in my brain (it’s funny what I find myself being politically correct about).
This show isn’t suitable for the under 14s but I’d recommend it to anyone else. Ideally, if you’re not a fan of being the involved part of the audience when it comes to audience involvement then try and sit away from the front. That’s standard Edinburgh Fringe rules, though.
A note about the Gilded Balloon’s Nightclub venue (and generally about the Gilded Balloon) is that it’s pretty tight and gets very warm. Take your jacket off when you arrive.