EDINBURGH FRINGE: Boulder at The Pleasance Courtyard (Forth), venue 33 *****
Puppetry has come a long way since Sooty and Basil Brush (though he is still entertaining families and is this year performing elsewhere at the Fringe).

War Horse is the biggest and best example of just how sophisticated it can be, but there are many smaller puppet makers producing significant work on a more modest scale, some inspired by methods which go back centuries.

One such is Peter Morton whose company, Half a String, is making a welcome return to Edinburgh after a successful debut in 2017, and this time in a bigger (and air conditioned!) space.

Puppeteers are thin on the ground this year so his show is a rare treat – and for so many reasons. Peter is a master craftsman who is inspired by both Japanese Bunraku puppetry and the Handspring Puppet Company and spent 18 months developing Boulder and making his intricate, mechanical works of art in both wood and steel.

What he and his hardworking team have created is a beautiful piece of entertainment, a multi-dimensional show based on the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who is damned to eternity by pushing a gigantic boulder up a hill, only for it to start rolling back when it nears the top.

Imaginative, ingenious and visually stunning, it not only features the ‘boulder’ and an almost life-size puppet, brought to life by Nicholas Halliwell and Louisa Ashton, but also an exquisite performance by singer/songwriter Avi Simmons, whose husband Caleb provides an animated film of Sisyphus’s journey, while classical cellist Michael Bacon adds extra depth with atmospheric accompaniment and sound effects.

Dark moments make this more suitable for adults, but there are also moments of humour, and the puppet’s life-like movements and responses will often have you smiling.

Boulder is at The Pleasance Courtyard (Forth) EH8 9TJ until Aug 17 at 12.10pm. Tickets £9-£12 (cons £8-£11)
Box Office: 0131 556 6550/www.pleasance.co.uk