Trouble in the Square
theSpace @ Niddry St
Il Burattino, or The Puppet, is the story of young Tino, a simple lad who turns 18 during the Second World War, lured into signing up to the Italian army with dreams of becoming “a man” after years of being bullied and scorned as the youngest and smallest boy at the orphanage.
Despite the protestations of his only friend, and the amorous daughter of the puppet-maker he apprentices at, Tino is resolved and tramps happily off to Russia. But with him, he takes his last gift from his friends, a puppet, the titular burattino, with which he does impressions of Mussolini to amuse his comrades amidst the horrors and deprivations.
Il Burattino is a play with its heart in the right place. The story being told isn’t bad, as the implacably wide-eyed and simple Tino slowly becomes more and more jaded and cynical. But it’s an unbalanced story, as the opening scenes in the hills of Piedmont feel oddly forgotten, as do its characters once the introduction of a pair of soldier comrades join the scene. There’s still merit to it, as each person Tito meets seems to have a more interesting and nuanced story to bring to the fore. But the whole just never quite coalesces into something better than mediocrity.
This isn’t helped by a general level of unpreparedness on the part of the cast, some reading lines with pretty flat delivery, and more instances of the troupe stumbling over both their words and literal props than in anything else I’ve seen so far this Fringe. It’s definitely a piece that needs a little work and a bit more rehearsal time, with which it could turn into something far better.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan