THEATER REVIEW: Stuffed and Unstrung

We all grew up on the Muppets and now in a small theater in Union Square, the Muppets have grown up too (and man do they have filthy mouths and dirty minds) as Henson Alternative presents Stuffed and Unstrung, a live, adult orientated improv puppet show. First off, no, it’s not actually the Muppets but there are a wide variety of Henson puppets performed by amazing puppeteers including Jim Henson’s son Brian and the show brings improv comedy to a new level as the audience sees the puppeteers on stage creating the work as a cropped video feed above the stage gives the crowd a glimpse of the act with just the puppets.

The result is both fascinating and thoroughly entertaining and the actual show might well be the best improv of any kind you’ll find in New York right now. The sheer wit, timing, and craft of the performers aids in nullifying the lulls that one might find in a typical improv show. Brian Henson said he felt that part of the success was because in improv there are traditional scenarios such as a bad date and “when your actors doing it that’s one thing, but a bad date between a fish and a goat adds a whole new layer of outrageousness.”

The piece is hosted by actor Patrick Bristow who is well known from his roles on “Ellen” and “Who’s Line is it Anyway” and there is an enormous amount of audience participation ranging from the expected input via yelling out character names or occupations to be used in the sketch to pulling up audience members for a shotgun lesson in puppeteering and getting thrown into a skit. Check out my hijinx with the puppets here. The show is a perfect New York experience and not to be missed so grab a ticket while you can because the engagement only runs through May 29th at the Union Square Theatre. For more information go to www.stuffedandunstrung.com

Tim Needles

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