A collection of short pieces of puppetry, all of them concerned with death—or more broadly and accurately, the evanescence of existence—from the broadly comic to the baldly conceptual. The company uses a variety of techniques and materials: some of them are rather steampunk and indebted to Edward Gorey, while others depend on such elements as an oversize popup book, a child’s play set of farm animals, or live-blown soap bubbles (chew on that, Joseph Cornell). (Some of the more obscure works of the Neo-Futurists find a certain affinity here.) Spoken English language is relegated to obscurity: perhaps the most effective pieces are wordless, narrated by grunts and gasps, or in a foreign language. Most of the time, the troupe is not concerned whether we see the manipulating hands or not: if it happens, it happens. While the interludes spoken by “Nathanial Tweak,” one of the few articulating puppets in the cast, lend little to the proceedings, the troupe’s ability to animate mute wood and plastic is strong.
- Famous Puppet Death Scenes, created and performed by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington