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Home > Culture and Society

TFT Goes To... Trafalgar Square

13 August 2004

To celebrate the refurbishment of Trafalgar Square, Ken Livingstone is spearheading 'Trafalgar Square Summer 2004' - 'three months of colourful, unusual and exciting events in the heart of this great city', and all of them free. As well as this year's Play Day celebrations, there is street opera, young people making art, old people dancing ballroom, visions of the future, theatre, poetry, puppetry, athletics... You name it. It's there. There's even a screening of Battleship Potemkin with a new score performed live by The Pet Shop Boys. That's the 12th of September. And God knows we'll need *something* to cheer us up on the 12th. But let's not start getting maudlin about that just

This Wednesday was puppetry. And TFT popped along to have some fun. And why not? Puppets are fun. If just a little bit sinister. On one side of the square in a decent-sized marquee there were puppetry workshops in progress, courtesy of The Wright Stuff. Anyone who felt the urge was given the opportunity to express themselves through puppet-play. Their efforts were filmed and
simultaneously relayed back at them on TV screens. As we loitered at the door, observing, a young girl had her hand up what appeared to be some kind of satanic troll; and the smile on her face was a picture. Never before have we seen such soul-searing terror. Actually, no. We're just joking. She was actually having a whale of a time. As were the many other children we observed over the next half hour or so.

When they're not working with kids, The Wright Stuff also tackle slightly more adult themes, including 'an X-rated stand-up act' called Ruff Daddy which has apparently been described as 'Les Dawson meets John Prescott pissed in a kebab shop.'

Over on the other side of the square, we're not sure who was responsible for it, but there were... well, these.

Difficult to describe really. A little like a cross between Eastern European spectres and a pair of Martian junkies wrapped in old curtains. They stood on a plinth, stretching, leaning, communicating without words. It was very theatrical. Very odd. A few of the kids in the audience were not convinced. We watched for a while, then went off, feeling a little queasy. Shortly afterwards we were accosted by these evil little fuckers.

As you can see, these two are, without question, absolutely terrifying. They spoke in weird metallic sounding voices and made strange, vaguely lewd remarks. At which point, frankly speaking, we began to feel properly freaked. So much so that we were forced to leave Trafalgar Square immediately and repair to the nearest pub to calm our nerves. Don't get us wrong: it was a bizarre and strangely thrilling experience - if you like that sort of thing - and the kids and the families clearly did and were all having lots of fun, and that's great. But for us there's just something a little disconcerting about the whole human puppet crossover.

But yes, anyway, well done, Ken. That was very nice. Top marks. Now stop pissing around and sort the fucking tubes out. Next Wednesday: 'Romafest' with music and dance from Roma Rad and Mukka, featuring Dana Codorean Berciu. Plus Ricardo Czureja an his haunting Gypsy Voices. Be there, or be elsewhere.

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