One head, two hands, classic scenarios aplenty – accomplished puppetry meets clever scripting.
Two performers, dressed like diamond thieves, with tight black leotards, balaclavas and tool belts, a lump of roughly cut yellow foam and two white-ish cotton gloves – a recipe that leaves no margin for error. Fortunately, Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd know their puppetry, and the hour-long tale of Bruce is full of laughter, tears and complicated time travelling paradoxes, all the usual elements in a tale of boy meets girl, falls in love, runs away, accidentally ending up on a space ship as it launches…
Bruce is an ordinary guy. We meet him on a space ship, about to attempt a manual override when mission control has given up hope and left him to burn up on re-entry. The rest of the story unfolds with gradual steps back through time, pieces of the puzzle falling into place as each chapter plays out. Of course Bruce is not the only character on stage, there is a kindly Irish barman, an opinionated old man, the beautiful and intelligent love interest, her mission control manager, and ever and again, Bruce’s brooding nemesis. These all bring their own opinions and reactions to episodes in Bruce’s adventures, evoking cultural references to a host of popular genres and situations in hilarious fashion, all the more astounding when considering that it’s all done with one head, two hands, some very small props, inspired lighting choices and a clever soundtrack.
The story develops at a good speed, leaving enough room between jumps for situations to be fully milked for laughs, but never dragging or going for the corny gag in place of moving matters along. The coordination of Watts and Nixon-Lloyd in executing deft puppet moves, scene cuts to dialogue to sudden shifts in atmosphere, needs to be witnessed to be fully appreciated. Trying not to give anything away, the classic slapstick-meets-Beached As scene that features two New Zealanders crossing a road while carrying a pane of glass during a car chase scene… well, how would YOU perform this with nothing more than a lump of foam and a pair of cotton gloves?!
Featuring a flair for comic timing, a keen sense of the ridiculous, fingers on the pulse of pop culture and loads of courage, Bruce is ready for new audiences as Watts and Nixon-Lloyd head overseas for what promises to be an exciting tour.
The Last Great Hunt and The Hale Foundation present
Created and Performed by Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd
Venue: John Inverarity Music and Drama Centre, Hale School, Hale Road, Wembley Downs
Date: 15 June 2015
Duration: 55 minutes