The Table

The Smith Center changes up from its usual high-minded puppetry programming into something that’s just rubbery good fun. Blind Summit presents, in bunraku style, the character of Moses. Moses is the collision of a gravelly working-class British accent, a stretchy cloth body out of Tex Avery, and a head made of corrugated cardboard with a craggy face that looks like it should be on some country’s currency.

With hints of Beckett (Moses’s world is limited by the featureless dining room table that he stands on), in a rambling, irreverent monologue of 75 minutes, he tells the story of the Biblical Moses’s last hours on earth—more or less. Acting out multiple parts (the Hebrews on the plains of Moab, God swimming in his firmament) in an improvisational style that sometimes wanders on to less-than-successful side tracks, Moses cracks up the audience, his three puppeteers, and even the techs working the board at the back of the Kogod’s intimate black box. Yet Blind Summit achieves stirring effects with simple means: the puppet’s head has no moving parts above the swivel of its neck, so all of its emotions flow through the tilt of the head, quiet shifts of focus, and the reactions of its manipulators (Mark Down, Sean Garratt, and the extra-bendy Irena Stratieva).

But it’s that super-bouncy body that drives the physical comedy. You’d think that we’d be over the gag of George Jetson bounding off a runaway treadmill. No, we’re not: it still does its magic.

  • The Table, by Blind Summit Theatre, directed by Mark Down, Clarice Smith Center Kogod Theatre, College Park, Md.