The Carved Soul – Smock Alley – Tiger Dublin Fringe Review


The Carved Soul runs at Smock Alley until Wednesday the 17th.

Ollie is quite a difficult old man. He still has a lot of life left in him though, he has a quick wit and a lot of charm. He has that type of selective hearing that many old people develop, he only hears what he wants to hear. The only unusual thing about Ollie is that he’s made out of wood!

This is the first full production by ‘Without Strings’ theatre company. Ollie is a puppet or mannequin to be more precise and as their name suggests, he is without strings. He is almost full height with a normal human and has all the right joints with working arms and legs. In the early sequences of the piece, the puppet gets out of bed and moves across the room. It takes all four members of the cast to make this work, with different members working his arms and legs, showing the slow and awkward movement of an old man. While all four cast members are clearly visible, you find yourself focussing on the puppet and not on the people behind him.

When Ollie makes it across stage, he sits down and one of the actors breaks from their role of working the puppet to interact with Ollie. We get to meet carers and family members who drop in to join him during the day. They have short bursts of conversation as Ollie shuffles around his space, going back to bed or going to get a glass of water. It is a simple story and quite sad to see this old man remembering his younger days compared with the isolation and loneliness of his new life. He has moments of complete lucidity where he is as sharp as any of  us and at other times it all slips away and he is left scared and vulnerable.

The puppet is a hugely impressive creation, and with a couple of Lamberts involved, it should be no real surprise. The story is simple and tugs at your heart strings, but the movement and acting that creates Ollie is what this production is all about. He is a warm, grumpy and loveable old man, despite being made of plywood, nuts and bolts.

The Carved Soul runs at Smock Alley until Wednesday the 17th.

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