A quirky, outrageous puppet show premieres at Melbourne Fringe Festival

Carol Saffer

What happened when COVID beached cruise ship performer Murray Raine?

Lockdowns provided endless hours of creative time, and a new affiliation with Centrelink replaced a once lucrative job.

So, Mr Raine, a professional puppeteer and Carlton local, chose to reinvent his marionette skills and create They Came From Uranus, a humanette cabaret and comedy act for grown-ups.

“This rarely seen form of puppetry involves my head on a puppet’s body,” he said.

“I am the face of the 20 humanettes in the show and the operator of each character’s body and actions.”

This unique show is performed in an ornate miniature burlesque theatre and features a dazzling array of shadow puppetry, multi-media projections and outrageous costumes.

Sitting in the front row at kindergarten spellbound watching the Tintookies, a marionette troupe created by Peter Scriven for The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, was the bolt of lightning that set Mr Raine on his career path.

“I knew then that this is what I wanted to do: I started puppet classes when I was seven years old,” he said.

With the finesse of a drag queen’s mascara brush, Mr Raine has created a troupe of dazzling cabaret performers, each more outrageous than the last, where what is real morphs into the ridiculous and where indecency is redefined.

“I had a terrific team working with me; Neil Ray wrote the script; James Welsby is the director and Isaac Lummis lavishly costumed all the humanettes.”

Big eyelashes, gorgeous wigs, and an excess of sequin and feather define these stunning not-quite-human performers as they strut, lip-sync and shimmy to a non-stop kaleidoscope of music and sounds from the sizzling ‘60s to now.

“The show’s debut runs for eight nights from Saturday, October 15 at Trades Hall during Melbourne Fringe Festival, and then we hope to take the show to other venues,” Mr Raine said.

The storyline of They Came From Uranus is one of lust, sex and perversion featuring the planet’s alien race of sexually repressed and socially inferior beings.

When they stumble across the Instagram account of Earth’s social influencer Miss Candy Carcrashian they attempt to kidnap her.

With depictions of nudity and genitalia, this puppet show is not for the kiddies, faint-hearted or church social groups.  •

For more information: melbournefringe.com.au •

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