Tuesday, March 5

I, Kermit – Lion & Unicorn

Years ago, one of my best friends slept with Mr Blobby. I don’t literally mean that she made the beast with two backs with a pink flump-like man with yellow spots, but rather that she had sex with a man who, at the time, was in possession of the Mr Blobby suit. Possession of the suit dictates that you are, in effect, Mr Blobby in residence, until such a time as the Blobby-Baton is passed on to a successor. I’m unsure of whether my friend’s conquest is still the keeper of the costume or if there’s now a new Blobby on the beat, but in any event imagine the suit is currently languishing in a bin liner somewhere, perhaps with one of Mr Blobby’s mad, unseeing goggly eyes staring dolefully out of the bag.

The question of character, character ownership and the blurring of the lines between actor and puppet are some of the key themes that Charlie Sharpe tackles in I, Kermit. The fictionalised account of Steve Whitmire (Miles Blanch), former ‘Kermit handler’ fired from Jim Henson studios and now somewhere en route to a nervous breakdown with only his roommate Kermit (portrayed by Sharpe) and puppet-Kermit for company. The performances of each are excellent, with Kermit acting as a witty, punchy, Jiminy Cricket-style conscience/voice of reason against Steve’s witty yet pitiful grappling with his current situation. The insight into Steve’s psyche and the way he feels when he’s ‘being’ Kermit is something that will resonate with a lot of people, along with the sense of inclusion and belonging that can come from being involved with something that feels greater than the sum of its parts, and then the feeling of being bereft when that is lost.

Much like the explanation of the great frog himself, the show has many layers and for just under an hour run time gave me far more to think about than I expected. The very concept of the Muppet characters, for example – a famous frog actor, with frog children and a pig wife, playing Bob Cratchet alongside Michael Caine, all the time controlled by another actor. Its Inception, but with felt puppets and silly voices. But also, the lines we draw between fiction and reality, and the way we as an audience are able to suspend our disbelief so easily. It put me in mind of the compilation of clips of Sesame Street’s Elmo losing his head because he is seemingly the only one who can see that another character’s pet rock is, well, a rock. I, Kermit does more than just break the fourth wall, it absolutely shatters it and makes the audience question the concept of character, creativity, celebrity and pop-culture. It’s such a unique piece of writing, superbly acted, funny and thought provoking. The show is on until Saturday 9th July at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre which also features one of the nicest beer gardens I’ve been in in a long time AND a delightful and reasonably priced rosé. What’s not to like? A definite yes from me – go see while you can!

Playing until 9th July, https://www.thelionandunicorntheatre.com/whats-on

Reviewer Zoë Meeres

Reviewed: 6th July 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★