Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tales of the Nauseous Fairy, Geppetto Dreams Puppet Company, October 2 - 31

This is a trifle, but it is a delicious one. Or more accurately and using further food analogies, it could serve best as an antipasto or an amuse-bouche, a light and diverting treat preliminary to a Halloween season meal.

The Nauseous Fairy is a twenty-minute puppetry experience at the newly installed home in East Austin of Geppetto Dreams Puppet Company.

Geppetto himself (Ricki Vincent) and 5 unseen collaborators bring to life a vivid goblins’ garden for audiences limited to 20 per show, beginning at 7:00 p.m. and repeating at 45-minute intervals. I attended the earliest séance with Geppetto and friends last Saturday evening, hung around for a while to chat, and still had time to get to an 8 p.m. performance at another East Austin venue.

“The Nauseous Fairy” offers an environment and a cast of imaginatively designed creatures, including a bobbing gnome, a dragon that keeps hungry watch on those safe inside the audience’s
“magic circle,” a tiny creature perched over a bubbling bucket, a wide-faced pirate with an indeterminate Caribbean accent, and a tiny flying demon that sweeps overhead and spits red regurgitate.

And the Trash Monster! That seven-foot, swaying construction with illuminated red eyes is an animated rubbish dump. Looming at the end of the show, it serves as a green conscience and lively admonition against indiscriminate consumption and littering.

Puppeteer Ricki Vincent discovered Austin while touring his burlesque puppet show A Night at Miss Mimi’s. He now splits his time between Dallas and here.

The creatures in the troupe’s Nauseous Fairy experience evidence wonderful visual imagination and Geppetto’s mastery of both Chinese-style puppets moved by sticks and of bunraku, Japanese-style puppet constructions that can require two or more puppeteers to animate. The Geppetto Dreams website includes a fascinating 3 ½ minute video depicting the construction and testing of some of the creatures in this show.

During our twenty minutes in goblin underworld, the various creatures make fun of us, speculate how tasty we’d be if we stepped beyond that magic circle, sing cheery songs of the goblin life, bicker among themselves, and generally keep our attention moving from one point to another of the magic space. Rather than a story, this is a short submersion in magic. It’s a fine Halloween goody.

The theatre space is dimly lit, principally by a couple of blue or red floodlights in the corners. Black light effects and strobe are used to good effect. Dialogue and music are delivered by a recorded soundtrack that seems everywhere at once, a fact that can be momentarily disorienting. I discovered, for instance, that I’d been peering in one direction for half a minute while the speaking puppet was 180 degrees away.

I would have preferred to have someone running a simple light board so as to bring up a pool of illumination around the individual puppets as they spoke or cavorted.

But that will probably come eventually. The theatre space is newly installed and the company is operating with the resources and crew that it has. And the Sunday afternoon show, a little less scary since it’s meant principally for kids, is done in full lighting.

The performance space is a bit hidden from the street. You’ll need to park along Pedernales and then approach via the short alley on the south side of the Peacock Lounge. Geppetto himself will probably be there for you, with a genial greeting.

Review by Anna in Austin on Austin.com, October 23

Wikipedia on Japanese bunraku puppetry

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