Toyland puppets spill their guts

21 March 2016

by Alice Saville

“Stories about toys are normally like Noddy, very saccharine and sugary. The worst thing will happen is that maybe someone will get pushed over and they all go on a picnic. But what if something really bad happened?” Director and writer Ben Holland's first venture into making a play using puppets was inspired by this question, along with Disney, Pixar and loads of YouTube tutorials. Primary coloured toys act out a stylish and 1930s film noir, following a female detective's quest to hunt down a cold-blooded killer who's menacing Toyland.

We caught up with the button-eyed cast of Toyland Murders to find out what they've made of the NSDF so far – and who they'd like to murder.

Alice Saville: You guys are a long way from home. What's your favourite thing about Scarborough?

Deputy Harvey B Feltz: The beach sure is pretty.

Inspector McGraw: Yeah, back in Toyland we don’t have much of a shoreline to write home about. Shipyards mostly. A little more – what would you call it?

F: Lively?

McG: Deadly. All steel girders and rusty hooks. Not one for the tourists. Student drama festivals? Forget about it.

F: Instead of ice creams and picture postcards, think more shady cargo holds and gang violence.

AS: Does this town need cleaning up – and what would you tackle first?

F: I dunno. Seems pretty hygienic to me.

McG: I don’t think they mean the sanitation, Harv.

F: Oh right. Well, I guess you could always start with the gulls. Sure, they may seem a little unfriendly, but has anybody tried talking to them? How about encouraging a little communication between them and the local police? It’s all part of making the law everybody’s business. And hey, sometimes you can do a lot of good by doing things yourself!

McG: Harv. Ixnay on the igilante justice vay.

AS: What advice would you give to someone who told you they wanted to work in theatre?

McG: What, you mean like an operating theatre?

F: I guess it’s like anything really – just a little luck and a whole lot of elbow grease. Back when I first joined the force I felt like a real klutz. It was like every toy there was a better cop than me. But you stick around, keep at it and eventually you get where you want to be. I still get a little light-headed every time a citizen calls me "deputy"!

AS: We know you're good guys. But is there anyone you'd like to murder?

McG: Maybe murder’s a little heavy but, hoo boy, if you ever gave me a good right hook at somebody—

F: I hope you’re not talking about Deputy Philips, McGraw. You know he’s a police officer too.

McG: That knucklehead flew right into my parking space again this morningI Right as I was pulling in, like he was waiting for me! And he just looks at me with this dumb grin on his face. I tell ya, that guy is deliberately rocking the boat.

F: Deputy Philips is a rocking horse.

McG: That enough? Are we good? My lunch-break ended five minutes ago and those warehouses aren’t gonna raid themselves.

Photo credit: Giulia Delprato