Punch may be different, such as theater magician Neville Tranter shows with his newest production ‘Punch & Judy in Afghanistan’. In this small stage-show in the old Guignol style, Tranter manages to give his audience laughter and food for thought simultaneously. A real must-see-show! —Nigel, a puppeteer, has come to Afghanistan to entertain the allied troops. His assistant, Emile, wants to make a sightseeing trip on top of a camel. The flashlight of Nigel’s camera scares the camel, who runs off in panic with Emile still on its back. They have disappeared in the direction of Tora Bora.

Punch & Judy in Afghanistan

'Punch & Judy in Afghanistan'. Photo by Wim Sitvast.

Nigel tries to find his assistant. This search brings him to Tora Bora, where he meets Punch Bin Laden. Nigel finds himself in extreme danger but survives and finds out what has happened to Emile.

Besides the naive Nigel we meet the heartless television reporter, who is only interested in scoops, and the nervous UN-soldier, who is completely out of place in these rough regions.

The westerners are portrayed as unadapted to the harshness of Afghanistan.

Punch Bin Laden and his bloodthirsty wife, Judy, seem to be in complete control of the situation. They amuse themselves with playing cat and mouse with Nigel. But had they ever counted on someone escaping them to tell his story in Kabul? That was how the Americans found out where to find Bin Laden (Although they won’t admit it, they prefer to give the honours to their secret services instead of to a puppeteer!)

Neville Tranter is the founder, the artistic force and the only constant factor in many years of Stuffed Puppet Theatre. Neville is Stuffed Puppet. He developed his typical style of visual theatre with human size puppets. Neville Tranter is the only person on stage.

In his own brutal, ruthless but poetic way, he confronts the audience with their fears and dreams, urges and desires, personified by what are often life size talking puppets. Combining a minimal decor with sophisticated music, lighting and sound, using the oldest devices of the theatre as well as state of the art technology, Neville Tranter is capable of evoking images that the audience will not forget for a long time.

Stuffed Puppet has several productions in repertoire. Current productions are ‘Molière’, ‘Schicklgruber, alias Adolf Hitler’, ‘Vampyr’ and ‘Cuniculus’.

And there is more to come. ‘Mathilde’ is a new short piece about a very old woman and her fear and longing for death. This is the first piece of what will be a tryptich, portraying Mathilde and two people, somehow connected with her. The complete tryptich will be ready early 2013

Since years Neville Tranter gives masterclasses and workshops for puppeteers. As specialist in performing with the human size puppets he is invited to almost all major puppet academies in Europe for lessons.

Darja de Caluwe

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