Puppies, cnr Tory & Vivian Streets, Wellington

11/02/2014 - 15/02/2014

NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Production Details

On tour from Philadelphia, USA! 

In the wilds of Siberia, Charles Darwin goes off in search of the Yeti. The Yeti (if she exists) enters a radio station’s dance contest, hoping to win an all-expenses-paid vacation to a place that doesn’t exist yet. Darwin’s research companion—a little brown bat—falls in love with the radio station’s electromagnetic emissions—but how could that ever end happily? Meanwhile, Siberia’s caves are home to a secretive tribe of ropemakers—but their disintegrating family structure may cause their ancient craft to be lost forever. Through the lens of the real life allegory of the Flying Wallendas’ famous high-wire act, two performers on a tiny stage unfold Darwin’s laboratory, unfurl anatomic diagrams of the yeti, and try to tease out the difference between miracles and non-miracles.

The 7-Person Chair Pyramid High Wire Act is Donna Oblongata’s first original play independent of The Missoula Oblongata—made in collaboration with long-time collaborator Sarah Lowry, and the visual artist and performer Patrick Costello. Donna’s theatrical work has been cited by Rolling Stone as one of the reasons Baltimore had the “Best Scene in the Country” and by the Baltimore City Paper when it named DIY Theater as the city’s Best Trend: “…the productions are big, bold, and unendingly impressive.”

“A fanciful, free-associative romp…performed with naive charm and the virtuosity that comes from touring. The story defies synopsis, but…the simplest of means—hardware-store technics, slide projections, an old radio, admirable puppets, and gorgeously-painted banners—and sophisticated use of their tiny traveling stage space… come together in a series of events that, while not conventionally logical, ring with emotional truth and, like ripples in a pond, seem to expand out into the universe.” –The Milwaukee Examiner

“The romance of vaudeville, the adrenaline of punk, and the playfulness of the Children’s Television Workshop…packing the house with theatre buffs as well as with those who tend to fidget in velvet seats.”–St. Louis Magazine

During the Wellington Fringe, you can see
The 7 Person Chair Pyramid High Wire Act
from Feb 11-15 at 7pm each night.
The play will run at Puppies (118 Tory Street).

Theatre ,

A fun exploration

Review by Sophie Melchior 11th Feb 2014

Puppetry, humour and introspection all combine in this quirky show which tells a tale of exploration and love. And not to forget fact checking.

Donna Oblongata and Patrick Costello very cleverly use space to provide an intimate experience where the audience travels through a fantastical journey narrated by three main characters – Baticus, the talking bat, a blind Siberian rope maker and The Electromagnetic Spectrum – to present a very tactile show. I did feel the inclusion of Charles Darwin on the hunt for the Yeti detracted from the other, stronger characters, but this is made up for by the excellent Yeti dance puppetry.

The two actors are clearly very comfortable in the small intimate space provided by their stage. It is a wooden structure, made especially for the show (and, we are told, for sale at the end of the run). It is more than a stage however, it is a prop and playground as well.

The interactive nature of the performance space just seems to enhance the tactile feel of the production. Puppets in many forms are used to tell parts of the story, and the tools of puppetry are used to great effect. Light and dark demark the different scenes, and the amusing use of an old slide projector and screen add real humour.

The creators seemed to want to capture an almost improvisational feel at times, effortlessly including the audience and yet further increasing the feel of an intimate show between friends.

The lounge like venue is a slight drawback however, as the seat set up makes it difficult to see some of the action off in the corners. My advice would be to get a front or second row seat so as to not miss anything.

Donna Oblongata, Patrick Costello and Sarah Lowry have created a tight show which misses very few beats. A fun exploration into where miracles really fit in and what makes us all tick. 


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