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Short Stories Returns With Hand Shadows
by Elyse Sommer

Schedule of Events and Links to Other International Puppet Festival 2000 Shows

David Lipfert's review (see below) during our previous Hensen International Puppet Theater Festival said it all. Hugo Suarez and Ines Pasic are back at the Public Theater with the same awe-inspiring use of fingers, hands, knees and whatever else it takes to bring their short but complete stories to life. This is an ideal choice for puppet fans with young children in tow.

This year these two witty mimics are book-ended by the shadow puppets of Prosanna Reo. The amiable performer stands at the side of the stage and projects an array of animal and human portraits onto a screen using only his fingers -- and occasionally his head and shoulders. This extends the show to an announced 75 minutes -- but actually some 20 minutes longer since Reo returns for a rather lengthy reprise after the Short Stories segment. Charming and clever as he is, this second appearance lacks the surprise and impact of his opening appearance. Ideally when Suarex and Pasic are done, Reo should join them to take a well-deserved bow, but leave it at that.

Created and Performed by Prosanna Rao
Teatro Hugo & Ines
Created and performed by: Hugo Suarez and Ines Pasic
Running Time: 95 minutes, without intermission
Public Theater/Shiva
425 Lafayette Street, NYC
Festival Hotline: (212) 279-4200
performances through 9/16/2000
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on 9/13 performance

A CurtainUp Review Short Stories

by David Lipfert

Overview of The International Puppet Festival '98, Schedule of Events and Links to Other Shows
Overview of The International Puppet Festival 2000 Schedule of Events and Links to Other Shows

Hugo Suarez and Ines Pasic subtly entice us into their miniature world. They introduce us to their innumerable small friends--puppets formed from the duo's hands, feet and even knees. Minimal props include a rubber nose, a shirt with strategic holes inserted and perhaps an object or two. The duo then proceed to bring these characters and their feelings to life.

The puppets have emotions to whichwe can easily relate. A timid little guy (Pasic's middle fingers peering through a tiny smock over her palm form the face) hides rather than play with a bright pink ball. A delicate ego is easily assuaged as Suarez offers a midget marionette to a knee-high puppet whose cloth body is attached to his shins. Suarez slips his left hand through a convenient sleeve to become the puppet's left hand, his right fist already busy as the puppet's face.

Dressed in black with bare feet, Pasic sits on a low box and raises her leg. The sole of her foot instantly becomes an expressive long face. After slipping a rubber nose held on by elastic about halfway down, the illusion is complete. A tiny cap pulled over her toes is almost superfluous. Pasic's feet are as expressive as any good actor's face.

Also high on the cleverness quotient is Suarez. He positions his exposed knee at the top of a green checked shirt and then slides a red clown nose over. His hands appear through the sleeves to complete the illusion of a street guitarist. After strumming a song on a miniature red guitar, our musician counts the money tossed into his inverted hat.

The fact that the duo dons shirts and props in view of the audience, does not diminish the power of their illusions.. Although we do not know these puppet characters' names or anything about them, we react instantly to them as people with specific emotional states. A fractured singer belts out "Granada", dropping his jaw (Suarez's right knuckles) to make the high notes. Pasic arranges her hands in such a way as to suggest a buxom babe who's more than a little bored with life. In a poignant reminder of our mortality, an old man with a wrinkled chin (again made from Suarez's knuckles) seemingly carrying the weight of time gradually collapses.

These puppets are well- behaved guests. No one overstays their welcome.

The musical selections used by Teatro Hugo & Ines --mostly classical favorites-- undercuts the originality of their program. Pachelbel Canon and Mozart's "Elvira Madigan" Concerto can hardly provide the fresh slant that is needed here. An unfamiliar guitar selection was the sole effective accompaniment.

The show should delight both children and adults. If you're are lucky, Suarez and Pasic will give some encores after the just over 60-minute performance.

Teatro Hugo & Ines
Created and performed by: Hugo Suarez and Ines Pasic
Public Theater 425 Lafayette Street, NYC
Festival Hotline: (212) 279-4200 Reviewed 9/17/98
performances through 9/20/98

ęCopyright 1998, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
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