The Harbinger

The Harbinger
By David Morton and Matthew Ryan. La Boite Indie and Dead Puppet Society. Director: David Morton. Roundhouse Theatre (Qld). 13-30 July, 2011.

Dead Puppet Society’s vision, and the concept they chose to achieve it, attracts many disciples. I understand this sixteen night season is almost booked out already.

I interpret this new entertainment concept as the equivalent of speculative fiction in literature. The arcane title that confused many theatregoers gives it away: specific writers are regenerating archaic language through their stories.

That there was no dialogue in this show unsettled some people. No worries:  Like children being led through a new picture book, we were treated to imagination, magic and wonder. We may have come away with different interpretations of what we saw, but most agreed it was an enchanting experience. The creators use the term ‘immersive storytelling’. It’s apt.

Elizabeth Millington, Anna Straker and Giema Contini who ‘physicalise’ the giant ‘old man’ puppet were so effective and convincing that they become ‘invisible’. The only acting role, as such, was the girl who sought refuge from the devastation in the old man’s boarded-up Book Store. Kathleen Iron was eloquent in her silence.

Creation of the ‘back wall’ cyclorama that illustrated most of the story must have involved prodigious talent and amazing technological expertise. To everyone who offered their skills, voice-overs, live puppetry, lighting, sound: Bravo!

Robert Morley once said, ‘You should try everything once, except buggery and ballroom dancing.’ I’m delighted I tried this; I’d recommend it to anyone.

Jay McKee

Images:  Top - (from left to right); Anna Straker (puppeteer), Elizabeth Millington (puppeteer), Kathleen Iron (actor) and Giema Contini (puppeteer). Lower - Kathleen Iron. Photographer: Al Caeiro.

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