They Came From Uranus

They-Came-From-UranusMurray Raine is one of Australia’s greatest living puppeteers. With this art form moving out of the realm of “kids entertainment” back to its origins as something more universal, theatre involving puppets has become more diverse and sophisticated.

Testament to this is the fact that Raine is the only puppeteer to have won the Mo Award for Australian Speciality Act of the Year.

His Adelaide Fringe offering They Came From Uranus tells the story of creatures from that pun-worthy planet trying to track down a burlesque entertainer and influencer, Candy Carcrashian, for whom they have the alien hots. Candy works at a place called Barb’s and the aliens struggle to find it. Meanwhile, the show at Barb’s keeps going.

Raine presents a series of puppet-performances of classic drag-show songs and personifications, including numbers by Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow, and even Sonny and Cher. He uses his own face along with the puppet body, which works incredibly well due to Raine’s talent in giving himself doll-like expressions.

His energy and passion explode from the stage with each song, and as with any truly great puppeteer, there is a palpable sense of “the other” in the character. Along with the musical numbers the story is told through animated video, and also some use of delightful shadow-puppets, the two alternating on either side of the stage, and helping to break up the show.

Clearly the story-line is thin, working purely as a framework from which to hang the songs. However there were stories told through the animation of various peoples’ encounters with the aliens, so some more narrative strength wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The show is let down somewhat though by the writing. Of course, not everyone finds the same things funny, but They Came From Uranus relies almost entirely on old-style drag jokes: tits, bums, and penises. Some of the audience were expecting more sophisticated sexual humour, and were disappointed.

They certainly took a long time to warm up, and many people sitting around me didn’t laugh out loud once. However, once they got into it, the majority seemed to enjoy it and the laughter eventually started rolling.

It would be great to see what Raine could do if he worked with a writer to develop his material. He is an incredible performer, putting on a technically sophisticated one-man show, but one can’t help feel that some more collaboration would make this show tighter and funnier.

Overall, as a Fringe show, They Came From Uranus delivers: colour and movement, technical proficiency, humour (albeit single-note), music, and utterly delightful puppets. And at one hour it is just the right length.

Clearly not for children (the singing penis may scar them for life!), this is a great show to slip in and see when you are out Fringing and looking for something different. It is certainly worth it just to watch Raine’s puppetry skills in action.

They Came From Uranus
Empire Cabaret Theatre at Wonderland Festival Hub, Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide
Season continues to 19 March 2023

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Miss Candy Carcrashian stars in They Came From Uranus (supplied)

Review: Tracey Korsten