A gothic con­jur­ing of lone­li­ness and grief played in plain sight

Scottish Daily Mail - - Festival Five - Alan Chad­wick by

Ada/Ava (Un­der­belly Pot­terow) Haunt­ing

Un­der­belly has en­joyed con­sid­er­able suc­cess down the years with in­no­va­tive, pup­pet noir shows, (Alvin Sput­nik, bruce, It’s dark Out­side). This euro­pean Pre­miere of Ada/Ava, by Chicago’s Man­ual Cin­ema looks set to con­tinue that run. Cov­er­ing plenty of bases – multimedia, live mu­sic, shadow pup­pets, per­for­mance – the show is ba­si­cally a live an­i­mated movie, with the whole troupe (pup­peteers, mu­si­cians, ac­tors) in plain sight on stage the whole time while their ‘movie’ takes shape on the big screen above.

If that sounds like Man­ual Cin­ema are the Penn and Teller of theatre, i.e, they don’t mind show­ing you how they work their magic, it’s en­tirely in­ten­tional.

A two-tier per­for­mance, part of the ap­peal lies in watch­ing the per­form­ers dex­ter­ously nav­i­gate through a com­bi­na­tion of pa­per cutouts, transparan­cies, pro­jec­tor slides, and live ac­tion shadow work to de­liver the ac­tion on screen. For some this might be dis­tract­ing and cause an emo­tional dis­con­nect with the story.

The plot is fairly sim­ple. el­derly iden­ti­cal twins Ada and Ava live in a sea­side vil­lage over­shad­owed by a light­house. ev­ery night, they drink tea and play chess against a back­ground of sil­hou­ette por­traits of their lives down the ages.

but when Ava dies, Ada is left to come to terms not only with her grief, but also the dis­ori­en­tat­ing iso­la­tion and lone­li­ness that comes with hav­ing to adapt to life for one, and be­ing left to your own thoughts, night­mares, and me­mories. From here the show de­vel­ops a haunt­ing, dizzy­ing, ex­pres­sion­is­tic dream­scape all its own, played out against an eerie score and mainly black and white land­scape that is pure new eng­land Gothic.

The at­mo­sphere a cross be­tween Tim bur­ton’s Corpse bride and ed­ward Gorey, there might not be a word of dialogue spo­ken here, but there’s plenty thrown into the pot to touch the heart strings.

At times the nar­ra­tive can leave you as dis­ori­en­tated as Ada. but the symbolism over­load is com­pen­sated by aide mem­oires of beauty, such as a por­trait of the twins as young girls hold­ing a bal­loon come to life.

Un­der­belly Pot­terow (Top­side), un­til Au­gust 29

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.