Sarkadi’s Budapest Marionettes [FringeTIX]
Bence Sarkadi @ Puppet Palace
8:00pm, Tue 16 Feb 2010
So – I’m arriving very early to the Puppet Palace for this performance, and more than a little pissed off that Beat Munky has been cancelled. To fill in that gap, I’d bought a ticket to Philip Escoffey which, if everything ran on time, would leave me five minutes to hop from the Puppet Palace into the Umbrella Revolution, right next door.
If everything ran on time.
Which it didn’t, really.
Tuesday nights appear to be the new Monday nights – the Dead Night. There’s bugger all people milling around, and those that are coming into The Garden are scurrying on to the Bosco – they’re running late for The Boy With Tape On His Face. I’m chatting to the bored attendant at the Puppet Palace, empathising with her frustration at not being able to play her MMORPGs whilst “working” on dead nights such as these, and the decision is made to wait a few more minutes, try to drum up more interest in this show. But when the show eventually starts fifteen minutes late, there’s still less than a dozen people there, including the Garden ring-ins.
Bence Sarkadi is a likeable enough chap, with the stereotypically stiff and proper politeness of an ESL eastern european. He opens his show with a small, hand-sized marionette of a man, lifting and carrying objects; it’s very twee, but very expressive. This little man was alive.
His larger marionettes, however, didn’t have as positive an impact on me. There’s an uncomfortable lull as his musical backing CD goes missing, leaving the reluctant audience to try and figure out when to insert the appropriate “ooohs” and “aaahs” into the acrobat performance. I can see how this acrobatic marionette would be impressive on the right day, but Sarkadi was having a bit of a ‘mare – tangled strings and a less-than-bouyant crowd cuts that piece short.
Luckily, though, his act seems to alternate between the large and small puppets, so the charming little man reappears for more cheery goodness between the larger pieces. But the ice-skater was reasonable, and the bongo-player was the highlight of the larger forms – though the manipulation of the manipulator (puppeting a puppeteer, so to speak) was pretty decent, too.
For all the nice bits of this performance, I can’t help but think it was unpolished; Sarkadi’s vest still had advertising for his show pinned to the back of it, creating an annoying distraction every time he turned around. And when I saw the train-riding sequence, complete with moving scenery, I was instantly reminded of Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones – an immeasurably more polished performance, and one that’s also playing this year. And that’s a bit of a shame, because Sarkadi seems like he’s got a real passion for puppetry – it just wasn’t able to express itself properly this performance.