Take that as a single entendre, if you would.

I haven’t written full reviews of shows I’ve seen in awhile because, well, I didn’t need to.

At the end of August I saw UMO Ensemble’s “El Dorado.” A piece of weird movement theatre based on European buffoonery, and inspired by actual documents from the conquest of South America by the Spanish. Disturbing and beautiful, and made me feel at once that I want to learn to do that with myself, and that I can do that with myself. It deepened my drive toward physical-based theatre. Otherwise, I don’t have a lot to say about it. But wow, they’re really amazingly good.

Last week I attended a disturbing little puppet show called “Frankenocchio.” It’s a revival of a show that played at the much-mourned Empty Space Theatre some years ago, before being a circus freak was trendy in Seattle. When “underground” or “bohemian” movements still actually were. Anyway, the puppets are in the bunraku style, ie large puppets that take about three people to operate, but are capable of an amazing range of motion and life. The plot, however, was very much American — an angel falls from heaven after God maliciously and pointlessly cuts his strings; he lands, and his head pops off his body. Both head and body, separated, search for each other and wind up in the same circus sideshow. Much gross hilarity ensues as a well-meaning sideshow freak tries to sew Frankenocchio’s head back onto other bodies (a chicken, a poodle, a seal, all casualties of the circus who become, well, organ donors), and then as the body is first nearly-raped and then wrangled into the sideshow, having no way of protesting. Since I’m not a puppeteer (my puppetry experience is limited to a 10-minute solo performance with sockpuppets), I feel like I can’t really critique this show, although I will say that, while I’m sure it was cutting-edge at the time, and the skill of the puppeteers was amazing, and the end of the play was beautifully tragic, I’m really sick of supposedly “edgy” shows having something to do with the circus. But, as mentioned, I think this play actually helped start the trend in Seattle, not vice versa.

And finally, this weekend, I went to see “The Last 5 Years,” produced by my friend Samantha Camp and her new production company, US Productions. A musical with two actors and a 5 person orchestra. Beautifully sung and acted, especially on her part. My one qualm was that their violinist couldn’t play her instrument, so occasionally the music was hard to listen to. But that didn’t detract from the heart-felt performances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *