Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Is there any form of puppetry more delicate and graceful than Indonesian shadow figures, with their elegant outlines and intricate silhouettes? Now imagine the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE version of same and you have a little idea of the madness of the NEW EXHIBITION ROOM show integrating “storytime” and puppets (playing at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre thru Feb.26th).

Does it sound like a children’s show? It isn’t…except it is. Several children in my audience just gave themselves over to the silliness and enjoyed it for silliness’ sake without absorbing the outrageous allusions (to pop rock, feminism and anarchy).

If you think there’s nothing new under the sun, wait ‘til you see a baby zombie morph from a shadow puppet to a hand puppet (both incarnations quite delightful), navigate the MBTA and partake in a poetry slam. The puppetry is wildly imaginative and amazingly dexterous.

After baby zombie’s adventures, we meet a princess who learns to trust her own capabilities. “The Paper Bag Princess” utilizes humans as well as brown bag puppets to hilarious effect… but Mac Young’s paper set pieces steal the show. His giant pop up books inspire awe and his folded library stacks are a marvel of large scale origami.

The wonderfully shameless humor is delivered absolutely deadpan. You’ll shake your head but dissolve into giggles nevertheless at the fire breathing dragon (Joseph Mirrella) who singes a princess (Hannah Husband in a fabulous gown/cloud of dust and debris by Cara Pacifico), who enlists the help of a minstrel (Chuong Pham) and falls for a goofy librarian (Alejandro Simoes in a dual role). What’s not to love? Who wouldn’t welcome an off-the-wall experience which ends in homemade cookies for everyone? Best of all, the NEW EXHIBITION ROOM has cured me of my forty year puppophobia!