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A Day in November
Published on Monday, 15 August 2011

3 stars

Zoo Southside (venue website)
5-29 Aug, 5:00pm-6:00pm
Reviewed by Carmel Doohan

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

The relationship between this puppeteer and his beautifully made, wizened old puppet seemed to be that of a carer to an elderly man falling into dementia. With few props and meandering dialogue, watching it felt like falling into a surreal dream.

Their talk was gentle in mood, and reminiscent of an old fashioned children's TV show – until the puppet found a wiggling 'fish' and the theme became adult very quickly. This moment of confused sexuality from a creature who claimed to be a hundred years old, alongside his repetitive dialogue, built up a picture of ageing that felt strangely authentic.

The problem was that, although thematically necessary, this refusal to create any narrative beyond searching for lost vegetables and mumbling made engagement difficult. In the absence of plot, the whole show hinged on being able to delight in the movement of the creature.  The ill-thought-out seating made this impossible; from my spot, the puppet often looked like teddy being waggled by a parent.

I hope the verdict from the front row is different, as this was an original and potentially moving piece.  But from where I was sitting, the hour of looking for lost cucumbers felt very long.

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