Presented by Manual Cinema
Reviewed on 14 March 2017
Using three old-school overhead projectors, a series of puppets, gels and actors’ silhouettes, Lula Del Ray tells the story of a young girl growing up in the Southwest USA. The performers from Manual Cinema create an impressive array of effects live and mimic the language of film with focus pulls, wipes, Dutch angles and multiple exposures.
There’s a real charm to watching them at work onstage while on a screen above the performers, a live feed shows the story coming to life. Some of the effects are ingenious – the rain and lightning strikes are particularly impressive – and the first part of the show is spent marvelling at the amount of information that these shadows convey. As it continues, however, the same tricks are relied on too frequently in scenes that are overly long and repetitive.
Lula’s twin loves of space exploration and country music duo The Baden Brothers eventually take her from her rural caravan home to the big city. Accompanying sound effects from a laptop help to tell the story, which features a bizarre and unexplained twist and there’s no dialogue apart from a few snippets of radio broadcasts.
Coupled with the absence of intertitles, this means that Manual Cinema have ultimately placed too many restrictions on themselves. Despite their inventive creation of dream sequences, close-ups and sweeping landscape panoramas, the small cast of characters never really comes to life, and could really have benefited from a bit more personality.
The post-rock soundtrack, created live with cello and guitar, is beautiful and does help to hide the slow pace of the action but at 75 minutes, Lula Del Ray drags at times, and could have been edited down to retain its charm.
Reviewed by Alexis Buxton-Collins
Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Duration: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Tickets: $49, Friends $42, Concession $39, Under 30 $25