Friday, November 8, 2013

La MaMa's Puppet Series opens with "The Orphan Circus"

Quebec's Les Sage Fous troupe opened La MaMa's latest Puppet Series with a curious number called The Orphan Circus, directed by South Miller.
Monsieur P. T. Issimo, mysterious circus impresario
(photo by Cinthia Chouinard)

We begin this hour in the company of two rough-looking customers--actor/puppeteers Jacob Brindamour and Olivia Faye Lathuillière--who creep around a dark alley filled with corrugated gates, trash barrels, old oil cans and other debris. After our initial impulse to hug our belongings closer, we watch the pair go about recycling trash--"orphaned objects"--into treasure, asserting the siren-like beauty in a discarded, ratty-looking doll, training a fish skeleton to be a champion acrobat, and more.
Brindamour (l) and Lathuillière with friend(photo by Theo Cote)
Christian Laflamme's score, in its pleasantly jazzy way, belies the grim surroundings and the grotesque appearance of the puppets and says "New Age Magic Act." I got the point--see loveliness and wonder everywhere and anything is possible!--but never warmed up to these puppet characters or to the slight work itself. Perhaps something more meaningful and effective could have been done with the perfunctory contact between puppets and audience (first row only).

Brindamour and Lathuillière very skillfully control their puppets via little black sticks and strings, the dim lighting and our cooperative minds rendering those maneuvers nearly invisible. Yet the grand transformation these puppeteers seek to achieve is more announced than convincingly displayed.

The Orphan Circus repeats tonight and Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:30pm. The La MaMa Puppet Series runs through November 24, including a curated "puppet slam" on Friday, November 15 at 7pm. For information and ticketing, click here.

La MaMa (First Floor Theatre)
74A East 4th Street (between Bowery and 2nd Avenue), Manhattan

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