Sunday, January 11, 2009
Last night I went with a friend to see a "Labapalooza!" performance. Labapalooza is the "mini festival of new puppet theater from the lab at St. Ann's Warehouse". I had been tremendously, tremendously excited about this performance, expecting moving, mind-blowing, imaginative pieces using puppets and manipulated objects. I've seen some things in this genre before and really enjoyed it.
Instead, I got pretentious, amateurish, over-thought, and somewhat cliched performance art. In all three of the pieces the puppetry was incidental, almost thrown in. The first piece, my favorite, called Polio Jitterbug, featured a long filmed segment where objects kind of romped together. It was so badly and cheesily filmed that I was uncomfortable (there was some well done filmed cut outs that I enjoyed, however). Eventually the puppets came out on the set and I was very, very moved. It was a dream sequence of a boy with polio and I very much appreciated the concept.
The second piece was basically a dance piece that had some manipulated object brought in here and there. The choreography was good but nothing new. The dancers were adequate at best. The opera vocalist who was on stage during most of the piece was very mediocre and seemed to be struggling. The puppetry, which was wheeled in a table, was quite interesting. But there wasn't enough of it.
The third and final piece was just horrendous and I'm not going to discuss it. It was supposed to be amusing in an old fashioned broad humored kind of way, but I found it thoroughly grating and tedious.
I love the venue, by the way. It was wonderful being in DUMBO on a brisk snowy night, and I want to see other things there in the future (although the rest of this season seems uninspired).