We have a mixed relationship with puppets - Sooty is a lovely, magical teddy bear. Emu, a crazed peck-happy terror.

We use them to reflect our inner thoughts and desires. But never has the line been so blurred as in Robert Askins’s Hand to God, set in a Lutheran ministry in Texas.

Widowed Margery (Janie Dee) has set up a puppet club at her church to help keep her occupied with her son Jason (Harry Melling) as the star performer. But what seems so innocent descends into debauchery as she is overcome by a torrent of lust and Jason’s volcano of grief grief spills out through his puppet pal Tyrone.

The shy teenager says the puppet is possessed but as blood and four-letter words spurt forth it is left up to us to decide if we believe him or think the teenager’s suppressed emotions are making a bid for freedom.

Melling’s skill with the foul-mouthed sock creation is a joy to watch and worth the ticket price alone. He flicks back and forth between the two character’s voices and deftly manoeuvres the puppet to great comic effect.

Bucks Free Press:

Dee is also wonderful as his neatly-turned out mother who reminds us that at times adults really do not cope with their emotions with any more finesse or wisdom than teenagers.

The final scene where he wrestles figuratively and literally with Tyrone comes to a bone-crunching finish that hammers home the strength of feeling Jason is coping with.

Yes, it is perhaps a little too crudely drawn in places, especially when it comes to the sexual politics. Pastor Greg’s (Neil Pearson) attentions towards Margery feel cliched and Jason’s crush Jessica (Jemima Rooper) is little more than a rough-sketch, she seems to have been saved up for the headline-grabbing puppet sex scene. The closing monologue also feels a bit heavy-handed and unnecessary, as if Askins is trying to instil the gravitas his script is lacking.

I didn’t see the need as there is nothing wrong with enjoying the show simply as a sometimes silly yet always skilfully performed piece of entertainment that takes an irreverent and, at times, hilarious look at how we deal with the concepts of right and wrong.

Vaudeville Theatre, Strand, WC2R 0NH, until June 111. Details: 0330 333 4814, handtogod.co.uk

See our interview with Harry Melling here.