After completing his degree show last year, Zoom Rockman received and ate a wheel of cheese. He then had a nap. His cheese dream became an exhibition. Such is the premise of Zoom Rockman’s Jewish Hall of Fame, a short but engaging 3-D comic book that takes a wry look at some of the UK’s Jewish Icons complete with innovative puppetry and anthropomorphic hot dogs.
The exhibition is loosely linked by Rockman’s comic pages found on the walls that show him on the journey of his cheese dream, placing himself in various scenarios and in the presence of a range of celebs, from Claudia Winkleman to Alan Sugar to Alex Scott, all rendered as “Zoomascope” puppets
Half 3-D, half 2-D, these puppets give the feeling of a comic come to life and add an enjoyable element of interactivity as the audience must turn the handle themselves to bring the puppets to life, complete with the actual celebs doing the voices. The whole show reflects the light satirical japes of the Beano and the Dandy (Daniel Radcliffe’s candyfloss career, for instance) with some more adult themes (in, of course, Nigella’s puppet) and a final beautifully grand spread of Rockman’s excellent caricatures of other famous Jewish faces with more potentially to be added (a plea from us for Anthony Newley!).
These puppets work on a number of levels: the details of Rockman’s caricatures and backgrounds; the humour of the renderings; the good jokes spoken by the celebs (watch out for David Baddiel’s and Nigella’s); the end-of-the-pier British holiday sense that’s in keeping with the tone of humour. The ingenuity of the puppetry is evident, and it would be fascinating to see it on a larger scale: as it is, the exhibition feels a little too brief, as we meet the automatons and then are out the door. This is not to discount the amount of effort and research needed to get 10 puppets working and funny at the same time, only a wish that Rockman gets the investment to do more!
An enjoyably satirical and endearing show, Jewish Hall of Fame combines Rockman’s undeniable chops as a cartoonist and comedian with the real technical skill needed to create the automatons, a very British humour style, and a loving tribute to Jewish cultural icons. If a bit on the short side, it makes up for it in engaging its audience with its interactive nature and comedy flair and it is a window into a promising early career. What’s not to like?
Runs until 3 September 2023