Meet Fred devised by Hijinks Theatre – New Wolsey Studio and touring
Meet Fred is a play about the problems people face on a daily basis told through the eyes of a puppet. During the play Fred goes on dates, has job interviews and gets a job as a children’s entertainer. Fred learns that life is not as easy as you think it is and feels the best thing to do is kill himself – which is what happens to some unfortunate people.
The company, Hijinx, started creating the play two years ago when they worked with puppeteer experts Blind Summit for a week, involving workshops for their actors with learning disabilities. None of the puppeteers for Meet Fred had ever worked with puppets before, which made the play that little bit harder for them to perform.
All the actors were amazing and the fact that some of them had learning disabilities made it that little bit more special. Gareth John is an actor with down’s syndrome who was portraying Martin, the outgoing charismatic stage manager. Martin had helped devise the piece – but had sadly passed away a few months before. But because his contribution meant a lot to the group it was decided that Gareth would play Martin as if he was still there.
Ben Pettitt-Wade was the Director of both the production and in the play, as he was the one trying to direct Fred’s life to cover every issue we face. Dan McGowan had one of the hardest roles as he had to control the puppets head and left arm, whilst remembering all the lines the puppet says.
The play suited the Studio’s smaller space as you felt more connected to the play. One set of lights focused on the ‘stage’ that Fred stayed on, and the actors controlled these to suit. There were also main lights run by Ceri James who made the lights fit the scene by dimming them when needed and also putting them up on the audience at times.
Overall the play was incredible and definitely worth seeing. The actors break in and out of character which makes the play seem more real and gets you more involved. You will defiantly feel for Fred as you would have experienced at least one of the issues he faces.