Unpacked, Fourth Violin From the Left

Review in Issue 17-2 | Summer 2005

The basement of the Arcola feels like the natural habitat for this inventive debut show from Unpacked. Arriving a little late, my companion and I find ourselves stumbling into the performance area, tripping over in the darkness, then caught like rabbits in the headlights as torches scan the space. Slipping into our seats, we see shadows leaping across the dank crumbling walls which reveal, scrawled in chalk, Plan A and Plan B. On stage is a motley crew of characters in raincoats who seem to have been schooled on a mix of Film Noir, the Pink Panther and Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy. Identities are lost and found, plans are abandoned and reinstated, plots hatched, non-sequiturs mouthed. And through it all, the phone rings.

Unpacked blend robust physical performance with confident object animation. Bodies tip in and out of suitcases, or a case opens to reveal a puppet fashioned from tin coffee pots or newspaper. The relationship between what is real and what is representational is explored throughout. The piece is played in real time as a race against the clock, audience members consulted occasionally to double-check their watches. The show is consistently well performed, ideas well executed, and occasionally the company surpass themselves with a moment of absolute theatrical brilliance – one such being a toe-curling torture scene in which a paper puppet is singed by a real flame. Unpacked are amongst an elite group of young companies that are bringing a new vision to the art of puppetry – showing how well animation and physical theatre can work together in the right hands.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-2
p. 30