Randy Writes a Novel at Soho Theatre
After a highly successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, making its London debut, Randy Writes a Novel is a show about a puppet with very human problems. As the audience is greeted by a grimacing purple face, crooning like Sinatra, a turbulent yet heartwarming comedy journey commences to find the importance of leaving behind an artful legacy.
As Randy Feltface (aspiring novelist) deviates from reading from his latest book, theatregoers are taken through a range of little talks on being vegan, death, the perils of online shopping, and even a three-and-a-half minute crash course on the life and times of Earnest Hemingway. Essentially a standup routine, there is a lot to laugh at, however, the material does lack continuity, with the segments feeling disjointed. As the performance concludes with a monologue about leaving an artistic legacy, it is hard not to feel that it is a token take home message, as opposed to a through line that is present throughout the whole show.
Puppeteer and writer Heath McIvor – known for his work as Fiend in The Jim Henson Company movie Me and My Monsters – does a skillful job of making the audience see through the felt facade of Randy, into something that is far more sentient. It is mesmerising to see a talented puppeteer bring Randy to life, giving him a very recognisable humanity. Despite this, in a Catch 22-like situation, the fact that Randy becomes so human means that the puppet element is lost slightly and therefore not fully exploited for its comic potential. The human and puppet element merge so convincingly, it is hard at times to see the point in using puppetry at all.
In spite of this, Randy is pleasant company, providing a witty take on human life (as seen through his plastic spherical eyes) and the tortured soul, so often associated with artistry. Ultimately, masterful puppeteering and a queue of humorous anecdotes and lectures make for a chuckle-filled evening, laced with comfortable surrealism.
Randy Writes a Novel is at Soho Theatre from 7th until 19th November, for further information or to book visit here.
Read our interview with Randy Feltface here.