Professor (Amber) Forbes uses shadow puppetry to animate three pieces, The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe, Scrooge’s meeting with the Ghost of Jacob Marley, from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, and H. P. Lovecraft’s Fragments: Azathoth. Shadow puppetry has a long history, going back over 2,000 years to its Chinese origins. Not so common nowadays, it is rarely seen in Adelaide beyond a few sensational Indonesian puppeteers performing traditional works of great antiquity, using dozens of intrically detailed puppets, accompanied by music, and the singing which tells the tale.
This production takes that tradition and attempts to tell the Gothic tale of The Raven, the ghostly tale of Christmas redemption, and the horror fantasy of the Cthulhu mythos in which Azathoth appears as a deity whose name nobody dares to speak. This is an interesting idea, but all three readings have far more dialogue and description than action, and puppetry demands action to keep the attention focused.
Much of this performance is closer to a series of tableaux with very little movement, such as a nodding head. Continual blackouts slowed even further what little action there was. Marley rising from the ground and rattling his chains, and some scenes from Azathoth, gave glimpses of what could have been, but more movement oriented pieces, far more detailed puppets, and continuous work, unbroken by blackouts, are all needed to make that happen.
The potential is there, but it is not yet fully realised, and perhaps some outside direction and/or dramaturgy could be of immense help. This performance could have been so much more than we saw at this stage.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: The Loft, Ayers House Museum, 288 North Terrace, Adelaide
Season: 8pm Thurs to Sat to 16th March
Duration: Advertised as 40mins, but actually only runs for 25 mins
Tickets: All tickets $18
Bookings: Fringetix Box Offices, on line here, or 1300 621 255