REVIEW: Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones (NZ International Comedy Festival 2014)

Jeff Achtem

Playtime [by Matt Baker]

Jeff Achtem
Jeff Achtem

Jeff Achtem’s multi Edinburgh-award-nominated show Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones can be located in both the Comedy For Kids and Comedy Festival Special Events categories of the Comedy Festival website, and rightly so, as the Montreal master of shadow puppets has compiled a series of simple scenes through truly unique tactics.

Using a variety of everyday objects, Achtem constructs, right before the audience’s very eyes, the characters that will inhabit the scene to follow. The enjoyment comes from not only seeing how he creates these various characters, but how he manipulates them throughout the scene for comic effect, as Achtem is completely visible during the entire show.

Achtem also provides his own soundtrack, with hums, buzzes, clicks, and whistles, as well as the odd one-liner for the adults in the audience.

SSBB is one of three shows from Bunk Puppets, and one of two that doesn’t seem have a narrative. Considering he also holds workshops during his tours, it therefore seems that Achtem’s objective is not necessarily story-telling, but teaching children (and re-teaching adults) how to play – or, more specifically, how to use their imagination. There is even a childlike lilt in his voice in his finale address to the audience about his workshops. It’s just a shame that they were only on for 2 days of the festival.

Recommended 7+ years of age.

New Zealand Comedy Trust and The Edge present Sticks, Stones and Broken Bones playing at The Herald Theatre 11am & 6.30pm until Sat 3 May. Details see Comedy Festival

SEE ALSO: review by Nik Smythe

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