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Terrible Comfort updates and thinks

Another review!

Terrible Comfort

Everything Will Be Okay and Urgent Little Things (All the constant loud talking
is making me tired)

(Terrible Comfort are: Robert Reid and Sayraphim Lothian)

La Mama – July 21st until August 1st 2010

Everything Will Be Okay
Everything Will Be Okay tells us the story of Doug and Debbie, represented by ‘designer art market’ style stuffed toys. The puppeteers are present on stage but clothed in white lab coats and masked with Mexican wrestling Masks. There is Doug and his need to sabotage the federal election (set back in time at the last election) with extreme measures – not content with kicking over a couple of cardboard polling booths he goes nuclear! Debbie, concerned, seeks advice from the melodious female voice of an artificial intelligence that takes the form of a giant cat. There is a low, low tech, aesthetic to the show in its use of found and cheap materials and production values – sound and lighting is all controlled on the stage, at the ‘play table’ where all the action takes place.

Whist the two main characters are plumped out softies in the round the rest of the cast is 2D cutouts, standies, montages and a very scary set of Kevin Rudds. Objects and hokey homemade props move the story along, metonymically re-presenting events in the characters lives. Objects and props were brought on and off the set, sometimes in rapid succession to create little tableaux with lamps and torches clicked off and on to effect the transitions. The Boosh style roughly hand-made quality of the set and little performers was offset by the droll hitchhikers style humour that is consistent throughout.

A potentially serious subject matter is made accessible through this humour and the randomly generated general knowledge that peppers the whole piece. The show
as a whole made me think of 19th century picture show street storytellers who slid images in and out of a frame as they narrated the story – this was a precursor to film. In this vein I felt that Everything Will Be Okay was a kind of ‘live animation’ closer to stop
motion and illustration rather than puppetry. It’s really great to experience good storytelling in an original form which is what Everything Will Be Okay delivered.

Urgent Little Things
This fantastic shadow puppet show had the shadow puppet characters leave the screen to become 3d flesh and blood (felt and buttons)! A simple story where a larger than all the rest ‘demon of dumb stuff’ is down as he has no-one to poke (you can only poke
those bigger than you) so he sets off on a quest with a small companion to find a demon larger than himself.

The shadow puppetry is clear and strong, inventive and funny. The 3D puppets are wonderful (again with the ‘designer art market’ style). Still low tech and controlled from the play table with shadow screens constructed from the inside lids of little cases. The
narration was all pre – recorded. I would love to have had live voice in this one! Especially as there were usually only two characters and there were two puppeteers and in a tiny venue there seemed no reason for recorded voice at all. Liveness adds so much to an intimate puppetry performance and allows for listening to the audience and creating a more subtly nuanced show.

Again Terrible Comfort have shown inventiveness and creativity plus great writing and storytelling in these experimental works that do not fear to cross traditional and contemporary boundaries
Bronwen Kamasz

This review was published in OPEN, a monthly Australian puppet newsletter edited by Richard Hart and Julia Davis from Dreampuppets. You can see previous issues and sign up for it here http://www.dreampuppets.com/Performances.html


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