'Fireside Tales with Granddad' – Pickled Image

Sometimes dark and disturbing but always inspirational, Bristol-based puppet company Pickled Image create a homely atmosphere in ‘Fireside Tales with Granddad’. Some of the action takes place inside a story-tent, but Granddad himself stays seated at the side of the stage for the duration, regaling us with tales of trolls, sharks and most surprisingly (and amusingly) a pair of giant underpants!

Granddad is a large puppet with a friendly face, pulled up grey socks and a Fair Isle jumper. He is operated by the show’s writer Adam Fuller who uses one arm to operate the puppet, while the other is positioned through its sleeve and acts as its left arm, making Granddad especially expressive.

There is a great deal of audience interaction as Granddad asks younger audience members questions and requests plot suggestions. Fuller has succeeded in writing a show with broad appeal and ample room for giggles, particularly as Granddad constantly mishears the audience. There are some panto-esque moments when kids shout out to let Granddad know he has unexpected company onstage. It's clear they appreciate the opportunity to help direct Granddad’s attentions.

The props are beautifully made, including a suitcase full of brightly coloured coral, which provides the setting for the first tale featuring a hungry, naughty shark and a mermaid. Made with assistance from Bristol-based puppet maker Emma Powell, the puppets are very much in keeping with Pickled Image’s style, the faces similar to the ventriloquist’s dummies in ‘The Shop of Little Horrors’. The articulated tails on the shark and mermaid are a nice touch, giving the impression that they are swimming underwater.

Shadow puppetry is used to tell the tale of a dishonest prince and a goblin. This episode contains some beautiful, delicate scenes performed using a white screen inside the story tent but the switch in style does slow the action and energy of the show down, and Granddad tells the story in a slightly detached manner.

When the show makes a welcome return to rod puppetry, a grumpy troll appears. Granddad’s response in building a friendship with this unusual character teaches young audience members to always try to see each the good in each other. In all, director Dik Downey delivers a sweet show that is good natured family fun at its best.


'Fireside Tales with Granddad'
Pickled Image


"Fuller has succeeded in writing a show with broad appeal and ample room for giggles."

Additional Info

We watched this performance at the Little Angel Theatre, London.