Green Ginger, Rust

Review in Issue 18-1 | Spring 2006

Rust is a comedy drama set in the depths of the ocean, a show which uses actors acting and actors working big puppets. It is dark (often literally, so sit near the front or risk missing the finer details) and scary, but whether it’s deep, I’m not too sure.

In the show we meet young Spike and his girlfriend Sidney, who work in a fish-paste factory. Spike is kidnapped by the evil long-nosed Jellicoe (could he be related to the famous admiral of Jutland fame?) who rants at us in a broad Welsh chapel accent from a tiny window high up on the set. Spike has been press-ganged into working on a submarine pirate radio station peopled by a pair of Siamese twin DJs.

All clear so far? Through a series of delightful vignettes the story unfolds and resolves, although I must admit that by the end I wasn’t too sure quite where we had been taken.

The puppets and effects are faultless – Spike looks like a surprised teenager just woken up by his mum, and girl Sidney sports a classic punk hairdo recalling the chickens from the Aardman animation. The stage is dressed to resemble a gigantic piece of rusting marine iron, across and through which doors open and close to reveal the various scenes. Like other Green Ginger productions, this show is a quirky mix of theatre and puppetry, and at times becomes almost filmic, with each revealed square taking on the quality of a small cinema screen. There are some lovely underwater scenarios set inside a Nautilus-style submarine, sub-aqua radio studios, miniature ships sailing on the high seas, a latex Smashy and Nicey – it’s all there in superb detail. There are some delightful scene changes during which we get to know the three actors better, and they turn out to be very agreeable singers of sea shanties. When these performers operate and vocalise the puppets, there is no attempt to hide what they are doing, and this procedure in itself becomes a fascinating spectacle to watch as you are never quite sure exactly who is working whom.

I found the show enjoyable, confident and overwhelmingly professional in every regard, but I did leave with the slight sense that all the gorgeous puppets and their elaborate production had come some time ahead of the actual storyline, and that this rather crucial element had been latterly woven around the characters. However, if it’s beautifully made puppets and sets, presented by fine actors, that sails your boat, then Rust is a must for all Ginger fans out there.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-1
p. 28