Mr Punch

Mr Punch by Layla Holzer film video performance

I have adapted the traditional puppet show Punch and Judy to focus on the themes of male fear and power over the female, using the notorious Mr Punch’s violence as a key motif. The film features the characters in the forms of both puppets and masked-actors, creating contrast in scale, authority and performance. The female characters have delicate papier-mâché heads which buckle easily under the brutish blows of Mr Punch’s phallic swizzle stick, emphasising masculine power. These characters are inspired by the uncanny and monstrous-feminine archetypes as explored by Sigmund Freud and Barbara Creed, focusing on female’s association with bestiality, castration and menstruation. As Mr Punch encounters the females, he beats them into submission, rendering them into small, crushed glove puppets. Slipping his hand inside the glove-bodies, he gleefully chuckles at how easily these females are overpowered as he hops away to the next encounter.

Mr Punch by Layla Holzer contemporary puppetry

Mr Punch by Layla Holzer puppets puppetry