A Day in November is a gentle encounter with a puppet and his puppeteer, Theater Atelie 313’s Rumen Gavanozov. We meet the Old Man, the puppet, who is nearing the end of his life at the ripe old age of a hundred. He’s a strange dithery entity who’s controlled tenderly by Gavanozov, slowly popping and plodding around the space in a state of unrest and puzzlement.
The pace of the piece is slow and nothing much happens – this is more an exploration of the lonely moments before death. All the pitfalls of old age make an appearance as the puppet constantly falls asleep, gets confused at his own reflection and forgets his name.
The slow pace of this production pulls the spectator into a smooth almost dream-like state – if in a better venue Gavanozov may have had more luck keeping us focused, but due to noise pollution this temperate performance couldn’t find its rhythm. Gavanozov has made a clear decision to keep the piece as silent as possible, with little music, leaving the atmosphere quite cold throughout.
The real heart of the performance is Gavanozov’s relationship with the Old Man, like that of a son looking after his aged father – at times he’s tender and caring, then frustration clouds over and we feel the inevitable end closing in.
A Day in November may not be for most audience members, but there’s something praiseworthy in its simplicity.