Review of The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance

Fantasy Audio Drama - Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKeanThe Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance
By Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean; Performed by a Full Cast
Publisher: BBC Radio 3
Published: March 3rd 2005
Themes: / Fantasy / Mythology / Puppetry / England / Memory /

“That’s the way to do it!”

Audio drama is a hit or miss affair, but the BBC knows its stuff, so it is really terrific that they produced this adaptation of a Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s graphic novel. The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance is somber reminiscence of a young English boy’s familial experiences and the resonance it had with the seaside Punch and Judy shows. North American audiences probably aren’t familiar with the Punch and Judy so I’ll lay out the basics… Punch and Judy is a popular British puppet show for children, featuring Mr. Punch and his “bit of stuff” Judy. The performances consist of short scenes, each of which depict an interaction between the chaotic trickster Mr. Punch and one other character. The Punch and Judy show is always performed by a single puppeteer, (known in the trade as a Professor), which is why only two characters can be on stage at the same time. Mr. Punch is a hunchback who sports a hideous grin, beady piercing eyes, a giant chin, hooked nose and the dress of a court jester. Mr. Punch usually carries a stick, with which he happily beats the other character on stage. The other character could be Judy, her baby, a crocodile, the devil or even a string of naughty sausages. The plot of this particular audio drama shows us how the particular staging of a Punch and Judy show doesn’t vary the particular impact on the audience except when one has been cast in the play. McKean’s original piano score haunts the production and the actors all play their roles to perfection. While not as engaging as some of Gaiman’s later work this tale is nonetheless very neatly woven. This radio drama will be archived for one month on the BBC Radio 3 website. So listen while you may you naughty little sausages!


Narrator …… Richard Dillane
Swatchell …… Alexander Morton
Grandfather …… Hugh Dickson
Morton …… Karl Johnson
Boy …… Jonathan Bee
Mermaid …… Rachel Atkins
Grandmother …… Susan Jameson
Father …… Stuart McLoughlin
Mr Punch …… Geoff Felix
Sister …… Frankie Dean
Music by Dave McKean and Ashley Slater
Directed by Lu Kemp

Posted by Jesse Willis

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