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A CurtainUp Review
Outside of Japan, the word Bunraku is used loosely to refer to any style of puppetry where a full-bodied puppet is manipulated by any number of visible puppeteers who may or may not be dressed in black (in this case, they are). The nearly life-size puppets are each attached to their own puppeteers, who operate them with handles. The humans who wear thin masks so as to be as unobtrusive as possible. The puppets themselves are differently and elaborately (and differently) dressed, with the glaring exception of Apollo, who appears in a deus ex machina at the end of the play. He is merely a grinning theater mask with a very long drape of gold lame—a bit cheesy when compared to the rest of the graceful and unique puppet cast.
Though the production as a whole doesn't really grab hold of you, it is visually intriguing and interesting in the sense that it incorporates a number of disparate elements. In case you're unfamiliar with the story the puppets act out: Orestes, murdered his mother Clytemnestra at the urging of Apollo. His sister Electra tries to protect him, but they are both sentenced to die by the townspeople.
Two actors, clad in large woven box-like costumes, serve as the traditional Greek chorus with occasional singing and chanting. At times, bits of old movies and videos are projected above a stationary projection of the White House. That White House is a little disconcerting as there are no overt parallels drawn between the Orestes story and the current political situation. Perhaps this and the stilted and formal language is why this production falls flat. Despite the interesting staging, the larger resonance of the tragedy seems to be missing. But the Bunraku puppets are, for lack of a better word, cool and worth seeing. The Exiles-with Puppets|Reviewed 3/25/07|Closing 4/08/07
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide