I'm not quite sure what to expect as I sit down at SkyCity Theatre for a night at Puppetry of the Penis. I've brought my most squeamish friend with me, so I figure watching her watch this show will be entertainment in itself. There's a bubbly crowd of mixed gender here tonight and we're in for a communal viewing of penis puppetry: the ancient art of genital origami.
Onto stage, in capes and converse shoes, bound Sammy and Willow. Sammy is handsome and vivacious and Willow has a boy next door cheek to him. After an energetic introduction, the capes are off and the boys are fully nude – apart from their shoes and socks, which looks quite funny. The woman next to me (not my friend) shrieks "I can't stop looking!" Yes, I'm in for a good night.
Sammy and Willow waste no time getting into their dick tricks! The 'installations', as they call them, include geographical landmarks, food, animals, and transport. The lady next to me intermittently cries "OH MY GOD!" The audience is delighted and in disbelief. The banter between the performers and with the audience that happens while their members are being manipulated is natural – it never feels scripted – and their comic timing is spot on.
The installations are projected onto a big screen and CGI is applied to contextualise the installation - 'the tongue' suddenly is protruding from a face, 'the Loch Ness monster' is swimming in a Scottish sea. Jade, who has the tech job, must know these phalluses like the back of her hand.
For a show about penises it is incredibly innocent – there's no mention of sex. Really, these men have taken the curiosity of little boys fascinated with their willies, and put it on stage. Yes, it's a bit voyeuristic, but that's part of the point. They've even created a penis puppetry instruction manual you can buy – just in case you were really inspired by the show. Maybe you will be – go and see it and find out!
It's a fun night out with skilled performers who have the balls to do in front of an audience what many have done in private (and if you liked that pun, you'll love Sammy's barrage of them throughout the show).