File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 43

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Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 00:53:36 -0400
Subject: [Puptcrit] review: All Hail You Mighty Lords of Nowhere!

Hi all.
Tonight I had the chance to see the show starring two of my favorite among the puppets I made for others.
The show came to montreal, in a small venue, and it was quite an experience.

My latest reviews have been mostly positive, and I used a lot of "awesome" and "fantastic" and "cool" comments. 
This one is no exception, those words will still apply.

Show: All Hail You Mighty Lords of Nowhere!
Written, directed and performed by Alexander Winfield (Toronto).

To me, seeing a show with my own creations in it usually doesn't prevent me from watching it with a critical mind. If anything, it just makes me more difficult (iif not harsher), as I need to feel proud of my work and what collaborators and customers make with it. This show exceeded my expectations like you wouldn't believe. I shed tears twice, briefly. Something hit closer to home than I would have thought possible. The audience was so captivated,  at one point I wondered if we were indeed being puppets ourselves, like one of the character was saying in the show. 

The story is too much fun to spoil, so I'll just say this:
Two demons who conspired to bring about the end of the world (by the human's own hands) are left alone on an empty cadaver and ruin-full world, with only each other and their memories for company. 

It sounds rather sad and bleak, and it is at some points, but it's more than justified. It IS about the end of the world after all! 

Alexander Winfield plays three very distinct characters (even down to accents and voices) in alternance and sometimes they overlap (physically, manipulating himself and a puppet), and not once does he mix them up. It's like he really has three separate personalities.  It gets very intense, the range of emotions he can project is big.
I had no idea a solo performer could do it as well.

The live music supports everything beautifully. Tonight it was performed on keyboard and flute by multi-disciplined artist Kate Mior (mime, circus performer, living statue, comic book artist). I can't remember the name of the composer, but I'll ask tomorrow, and let you know. You'll probably hear about that show soon, it should go places.

The puppets are suited to the atmosphere.
I won't say much more, as I'm their daddy, and can't really be objective about them.

The set was minimal, and very appropriate: some sheets on the floor. A high table with a cloth draped over it.
A very old tree on the table. The accessories: a plastic bottle, a book, a DVD disk. The lights: one small desk lamp, one small yet powerful red palm-sized lamp (probably LED). There were a few candles on the audience's tables. With such lgithing, the puppets look even more alive and expressive than I expected.  Winfield plays with shadows in some scenes. One character posesses him, and one time he seems posessed while he manipulates said character. Great use of his hole body.
It is a very verbal play, with monologues and reminescence, using mouth puppets. Sometime this combo is too much for a puppet show, but not so in this case. It works beautifully. The text captivates, builds up momentum and leads us to the conclusion.

Not for children, probably not for some teenagers either. A few bad words, but I'd be more concerned about the hard to grasp (or to swallow) concepts like humanity's self-destructive behavior. Not a feel-good show per say, yet I left happy, with a set of questions about humanity's current directions on this small floating globe we call home.
A show with a Message, or a few messages, depengding on what you get out of it.

As the puppetmaker, I feel I have to add:
I would be thrilled to work for Alexander Winfield again.
I hope my sharing of paper mache techniques with him won't make me completely obsolete for his projects.
But if it does, I can't really mind, what a gain it will be for the audience! 
What better puppet than one built for and by the performer?

Shameless plug: This show travels very light, and therefore it would be easy to get to your venue and blow your people's minds.
I see it as a two-way crosser between Stage Theatre and Performance Art, suitable for both kinds of situation.
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