Buchinger’s Boot Marionettes, Vestibular Folds

Review in Issue 19-2 | Summer 2007

‘So how are you going to review that?’ asks my companion, obviously pleased that it’s me not him who has that task. Stepping outside, I bump into Mime Festival director Joseph Seelig, who offers a challenge: ‘Tell me what that was all about in fifty words or less!’ So, gentlemen, here goes: Hybrid puppets, mutant toys and veiled freaks journey through a succession of fantasy landscapes; burlesque Gormenghast; gloopy primal swamp; Brazilian (as in Gilliam, not the country) lab dedicated to the torture of rabbits. Dead or alive? Limbo? Think gaming, not theatre: complete the task, move on a level. Game ends. You want more? Okay… Vestibular Folds presents a metaphysical paradigm of the universe based on the model of a skipping gramophone record. The conceit is that it is the story of a tragic opera, Shellachrymellaecum, written by 19th Century marionettist, alchemist and dentist Ichabod Appleseed. The resulting recording of same is designed to sound identical whether played forwards or in reverse. The soundtrack is a glorious multi-sampled, multi-layered cornucopia of aural allusions. Imagine a hurdy-gurdy-playing showman and a bluegrass guitarist jamming with Throbbing Gristle, with Luciano Berio on the mixing desk. The performance space is divided into six boxed units. The lighting moves the action from space to space, so the whole thing is like a Victorian cabinet of curiosities that you’ve put your penny in and pressed the button to light up. Visually it works like a series of tableaux vivants. Never has the natural spookiness of the veiled puppeteer been better exploited, particularly in a sudden switch from trad-black to all-white. As for character and action: There is torture. Disembodied talking heads. Toy trains. Vampires. An anaemic albino bat. An ant-lion. A jellyfish. The messiah. More torture. Meanwhile, the music goes round and round.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-2
p. 27