They have become something of a Fringe institution, or perhaps they just require institutionalised, the antics of the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre returning to the Gilded Balloon for a tenth season, this year with a show entitled Superheroes, with no expense spared* as the greatest heroes and villains of Marvel and DC arrive in the form of knitted cotton.
A sold-out late slot on a Saturday night, the presence of puppets does not indicate that this is a show suitable for children, an on this occasion due to some unfeasibly uncooperative props there is perhaps even more profanity than usual in the ad-libbing, often as hilarious as the scripted gags.
Featuring a better Joker than Jared Leto, the show is also educational, enlightening the audience to the meaning of motion capture (for those who think they already know; you’re wrong) and the differences between cosmopolitan, Neapolitan and neo-classical, though the songs are largely reworkings of classic pop.
What might be more obscure to some is the Bechdel Test and the importance of modern entertainment to embrace its challenge, and thanks to a guest appearance by Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy discussing something other than their shared nemesis “with pointed ears who wears his pants on the outside – it’s not exactly Dostoyevsky,” it could be argued that Superheroes passes.
Supported by Cassie the Technician who provides the varied musical accompaniment, the terrible puns are fast and land with a suitable kapow, for certainly the audience were groaning, and while a knowledge of Scots dialect and superhero lore is helpful to get the most out of the show the antics and shenanigans are sufficiently lively to carry the uninitiated through the maelstrom.
The current profile of superheroes higher than it has ever been thanks to the recent offerings of DC and Marvel such as Justice League and Infinity War, these are of course addressed, but nor are the classics forgotten, the trailblazing performances of Adam West, Lynda Carter and Christopher Reeve, all celebrated in one of the most entertaining and anarchic nights out in the Fringe.