Stephen Mottram’s Animata, In Suspension

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

The stage is set with primary coloured wooden doll-like puppets draped in poses, lying down, hanging on trapezes. Mottram begins to work them like a wise old magician breathing life into his creations, especially the first puppet that must crawl with terrible effort in front of the audience. So far, so good; the jokes are good (the weight lifting puppet, the trapeze artiste) and he operates these plain wooden puppets with smooth, unhurried, exact skill.

Then the puppets become more otherworldly, literally disconnected except for their strings, torsos and hands and feet and heads that dance together and apart. It is bizarre, funny and frightening by turns, but above all the showmanship is spot on.

The last section is Punch and Judy meets the real world, the puppetry collapsed from the whole stage to a smaller conventional hand-puppet theatre, but the audience is well warmed up now for the jokes and the twists and turns of perception. Mottram plays with puppetry in an interesting way – not the faint praise interesting, but the interesting that drags you deep into these other worlds. The visual flow of his performance is nearer dance than anything else, and the strong vibrant soundtrack underscores and supports every move.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 25