Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

03/10/2013 - 05/10/2013

Hamilton Fringe 2013

Production Details

A unique blend of Absurdism and Bunraku, bringing to life a Dreams- cape ruled by Phantasos… The God of Weird Dreams… A cast of puppet characters, live musicians, and an array of inanimate objects create a series of evocative vignettes, rich in imagery, and curious in content… 

Thurs 3rd, Fri 4th & Sat 5th Oct
$10 waged, $5 concession & children

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Theatre ,

Weird Dreams

Review by Gail Pittaway 06th Oct 2013

Skeleton Key Productions does not provide a programme, so apologies if these comments are generalised. This is a charming short performance of several small vignettes, each one painstakingly worked out by three puppeteers and six musicians, along the overall theme of the subtitle. 

The set is arranged into sections and each one looks like a section of a jumble sale or white elephant stall: carpets, lightshades and drapes mounded on one area; a table with small devices on another; a velveteen armchair at upstage centre; a toilet on a pedestal downstage left. All very intriguing.

Each section then becomes the focus of a little scene involving different Banraku styled puppets: large half human sized, worked by two, even three black clad puppeteers each. There’s a Gandalf like figure, who calls the piece into being as he lopes across the stage – presumably Phantasos the God of Weird Dreams – followed by an inventor character whose electronic gizmos will be the death of him; a pixie-clown figure packing a suitcase full of impossibly large objects; a shy violinist; a ghoulish bride.

Each scene animates the inanimate objects and offers surprising bursts of invention, notably a toilet that literally offers a bouquet of flowers to a delightful robot made of a Tellus vacuum cleaner base. One of the longer and very funny scenes involves a velveteen armchair that sits in front of an Avengers-styled hypnotists’ circle board. A figure in a dressing gown keeps trying to sit and a voice-over of the hypnotist starts, repeatedly, but each time the door knocks some new absurd item is brought into the scene.  

This extended interruption scene works well because it gives the audience time to appreciate both the craft and the story, and it would have been better to have had some of the other sequences extended, or more variety in length and pace, as they all tend to have the same number of beats and energy, which makes the audience experience quite static.

Also, not all of the puppets are as well made as others and the faces are all very similar – I am not sure if that is intentional – but again it makes for a lack of variety, despite the different costumes and hair for each.  The puppeteers are already overworked as they give each character a different mood and mode of movement. 

The musicians are a very tight band, very well-rehearsed and sensitive to their role as musical narrators, commentators and enhancers of the scenes. There is a phantastic (sorry) homemade synthesiser, several fiddlers, scratch instruments, voice and what looks suspiciously like a hurdy-gurdy instrument, and all are used – as are voices, as burbles, chants and sighs. It is their support which holds this dream together as they create abstract yet mesmerizing sounds.


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