LONDON FESTIVAL FRINGE LONDON AWARDS 2012 reviewed by Laura Stratford
Flogging a Dead Horse ***
‘Flogging a Dead Horse’, the latest production by Faulty Optic(sic) is a mind-boggling mélange of puppetry, esoteric cerebral curiosities and musical madness. Founder of Faulty Optic, Gavin Glover and co-deviser, Philip Bosworth, plunge us down to the deepest depths of the sea and transport us to the moon and back in their quest to discover what lies behind the mental ping-pong between neurons and electrons in the human brain.
The stage is dark. We hear haunting noises and repetitive electro rhythms. Two masked figures slowly appear in the light, making us feel as if we’re passengers on a submarine or a spaceship. They find and collect fragmented puppet body parts, put them together and create the third anonymous character who is left alone at the end to face the puzzling world they’ve created.
Confused already? Good, because that’s the intention of this brilliant yet slightly bonkers production. There are no narrative plots or character arcs. This is an imaginative, clever and artistic performance. Our train of thought is portrayed as something nonsensical, banal and powerful as it governs our everyday lives and questions: What does this look like? What does this sound like? Highlights would have to be the live slicing-up and mushing of inked-human brain, the Gilbert and George-esque erratic dance scene with the puppet Salome, and the hilarious attempt to revive the eponymous ‘dead horse’.
The stage design is visually entertaining, and through different mediums such as live video and camera projections, we’re given a microscopic view of the numerous props that sit on stage or hang from the ceiling. The music effects, also arranged by Charles Webber, are sensory and mystifying. Complimented with Isabelle Wery’s direction, you’re left with an innovative and thought-provoking evening in skilled avant-garde puppetry. Who knows where Faulty Optic’s next adventure will lead…