play_station, Level 1, 233 Willis Street, Te Aro, Wellington

09/03/2020 - 15/03/2020

NZ Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

What happens when Paloma, a castaway, shares a desert island with the inaugural Grim Reapers’ Staff Party? She must dance the line between certain death and uncertain Deaths.

Paloma and the Do of Death is a marionette comedy, performed in a small theatre constructed from recycled timber, fabric and driftwood. While holed up, north of Greymouth, Tom Tuke began constructing a suite of puppets out of driftwood and derelict from the coast. In the year since, he has constructed a motley cast of characters – using shirt sleeves, salad servers, seashells, shipping pallets, pool cues, frayed rope, Countdown bags, fishing line and an old doll’s boots.

When Paloma, cast adrift from her cruise ship, washes up on a two-palm island, her time is, surely, up. Thinking she is hallucinating, a group of black dots appear in her vision. As they get bigger, she realises it is no mirage, this is a pack or grim reapers, quickly bearing down on her. Hunkering down, Paloma sees them fly overhead, land, and begin putting up a volleyball net. One starts shaking a cocktail. This is not a usual visit from Death, this is their first ever weekend off.

Watch as Paloma and most the Deaths form a tentative diplomatic alliance, only Death by Sharks – who hasn’t completed his KPIs, could disrupt the situation. He lurks in the shallows, needing one more soul, to join the party, and, dance the Dance of Death.

Tom Tuke is has a background in education, radio and visual art. Paloma and the Do of Death represents his first foray into the world of puppetry. The plot stems from a radio play written for a show with Hapori in Auckland 2015.

Vaping, dry ice, themes of death

NZ Fringe 2020
play_station, Level 1, 233 Willis Street, Te Aro
Monday 09 – Sunday 15 March 2020
8:00pm except Sunday at 3:00pm 
Price General Admission $15.00 Concession $10.00 Fringe Addict $10.00
Book Now 

Dunedin Fringe 2020 – CANCELLED
Favour, 418 Princes Street, Dunedin
FRI 20 – SAT 28 March
$10.00 – $15.00
All Ages
GET TICKETS* *Fees may apply

Theatre , Puppetry ,

A shoddy show

Review by John Smythe 12th Mar 2020

It’s ‘amateur hour’ (well 50 minutes including umpteen deadly scene changes and an unnecessary interval) upstairs at ‘play-station’ with the adult puppet show Paloma and the Do of Death. Nevertheless most of the 25 seat are full and the audience response is benign.  

Incorporating public service announcements into a hospital scene that sees sickly Phil visited by Grim Reaper Gary, and being ‘meta’ about the clumsy mechanics of their puppet theatre, makes for a reasonably amusing prologue. It’s here we are told there will be some waiting, to (nondescript) music, to allow for scene changes behind the drop curtain.

The poorly animated puppets – a bunch of Grim Reapers – are almost as crappy as the unstructured and semi-coherent scenes they inhabit. Visually the ship-board scene is better, that brings posh Paloma into play. Her babbling amiably about chowder and deck quoits, to her deceased husband, I think, gets some semblance of story underway.

Her getting the (unseen) captain to let her steer the ship leads, predictably, to it hitting an iceberg and sinking. The desert island near which she floats adrift is presumably where the Grim Reapers are having their annual function (not that this is apparent in action) before the become privatised (a previously-planted plot point that goes nowhere).

A Shark and an Orca appear and it’s amusing that they are unwilling to be the instruments of her death. Some of the differentiating accents are well executed too – but too often the dialogue is either meaningless or incomprehensible.

Because the dangling puppets are just jiggled to indicate they are talking, I become confused as to whether Paloma is floating, swimming, drowning or astral travelling – and nothing about the way the show is scripted or produced, devoid of dramatic structure or energy, keeps me engaged enough to care. Her Dance of Death with Gary is welcome because it tells me the end (of the show) is near.

I am left wondering why the creator Tom Tuke, working with an un-named assistant, thinks people should spend $10-15 and an hour of their time at this shoddy show when there is so much skilfully crafted work on offer from genuinely talented people in the Fringe. So ends my public service announcement.


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