Blood & Bone, VAULT Festival

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By guest critic Alistair Wilkinson (@alistairwilks)

A political satire, blended with sexualised humour, with a sprinkle of fertiliser-addicted plants that just want to have fun with their mates – what more could you ask for on a Wednesday night? The overriding rule of their way of life – do not leave the greenhouse. If you do, be prepared to fall prey to being a part of a hipster vegan’s Instagram post.

The play discusses many themes, and makes an incredible amount of pop culture references, in the space of only an hour. Donald J Stump is a certain highlight of the show, and a reference that is topically relevant. His desire to build a wall to keep all the non-garden plants out certainly is a problem for Ash’s new love Rosa, a seductive rose who has immigrated from the garden centre. Her prosthetically enhanced appearance leads to a debaucherous indulgence with the heroic fern. Let’s just hope he doesn’t catch any aphids from the experience.

The puppets experience real emotion, and show it to the audience better than most real humans. Ash’s desperate hunt for his “soilmate” leads to his heart being broken. We see the puppets as truly real – we have experienced these same feelings of lust, betrayal and hope ourselves.

The performances are phenomenal. Each actor-turned-puppeteer brings a new lease of life to each character that appears. I only wish that I could watch these plants on a weekly basis; so that I would be constantly updated as to what shenanigans they get up to. But even when the actors aren’t puppeteering, their performances still stand out as playful, energetic and full of spirit. An enjoyable twist of ‘Minnie the Moocher’, sung by the builders was another highlight.

Do the jokes ever go too far? No. This show certainly has the potential to offend, but isn’t that what great comedy is – the danger of teetering on the line of offense and hilarity? The audience adore it; I laughed the entire hour. This show is a great example of how to make innovative theatre on a budget. The storytelling is of such a high standard that simple props, effects and scene changes do not hinder the narrative.

There was a sold out-audience, which is something this piece most definitely deserves. In fact, out of all the pieces I have seen at the Vaults Fest this year, it wins my vote for the People’s Choice Awards. If you enjoy political satire, sexualised humour, puppetry and very clever puns then this is the show for you. The Vaults offer such a variety, but Blood & Bone should be at the top of your list on what to watch. Go and see this show.

Blood & Bone runs until 19 February.

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