World renowned for its haunting tales, visual theatre, strange animated figures and dark humour, Faulty Optic presents the eccentric, droll and compassionate new production..
In this simple, small-scale, low technology piece, Faulty Optic manipulates puppets, miniature and armless pointy-footed figures, clay, lagging, pens and plastic.
Fish Clay Perspex is a series of short character studies and incidences based upon chance, futility, expectation, doubt and the turmoil caused by the flailings and failings of the human mind.
Highlights include falling beasts, battered clay, bendy legs, bad drawing, frantic scribbling and the comic scrabbling of a simple, guileless duo.
Performed by Liz Walker and Sarah Wright.
Lighting Design and Production Management Mark Webber
composed and recorded by Hugh Nankivell and Ben McCabe.
Devised and constructed by Liz Walker with help from Ned Evans, John Dixon and Sarah Wright.
Set constructed by Dave Young, John Combes.
Thanks to Arts Council England, Sue Tongue, Jak Gaile, George Glover, Steve Tiplady.
20 January 2009
Fish Clay Perspex
Shunt Vaults, Fringe
This collection of short puppet-pieces for adults asks, eccentrically, charmingly and occasionally revoltingly, how two become one. Its arch manipulators Liz Walker and Sarah Wright do have a vested interest in the question: they work in tandem to bring their beadily menacing puppet-men to life, even to the extent of each lending an arm (up to the elbow in rubber glove) to a violently messy sculptor in ‘Clay’.
Faulty Optic is a company with a warped imagination and plenty of practical experience: they vary the texture and pace of this virtually wordless trilogy very nicely. ‘Fish’, in which a beachcomber gets a fish stuck on his head, is grotesquely awkward. ‘Clay’, in which an elderly sculptor is bumped off by his identical twin, is more jolly and demonic. And ‘Perspex’, in which two bound men struggle to escape from behind a transparent screen, is a modernist prison until it’s scrawled over by quirky cartoons.
The audible texture of these pieces is often as lovely as the unexpected materials: the rushing of the wind; the sawing of the violin strings; the floating piece of cotton wool that is a cloud, an idea and the retreating crest of a wave. The underground Shunt Vaults cavernously echo their makeshift principles – though a quieter space might have made this more spellbinding. The fish-headed man of the first piece is the most abiding creation. As he nails his feet to a plank of wood and vomits his guts up, he could a folksy Christ or miniature Caliban. The visible concentration of the puppeteers is beautiful to behold. But despite their gift for making ideas tactile, these miniatures are too slight and some motifs wander off in a way which is wilfully charming but hard to follow. Still, it boasts the best pincer legged ballet by armless men on polystyrene that I’ve ever seen.
20 January 2009
Fish Clay Perspex
Shunt Vaults, London
Some people wake up and discover that they have turned into a giant beetle; others pop out to the beach one day and end up with a giant fish attached to their heads. So it is in this triptych of loosely connected short pieces from UK puppeteers Faulty Optic, subtitled Incidences of a Quirky Kind. And yes, they are extremely quirky. As is always the case with Faulty Optic, you are plunged into a bizarre micro-world where anything can happen – and what does happen, however strange, seems perfectly normal. It is a tribute to the imaginative and technical flair of the company that you can quickly accept the fact that someone’s head can become a beach upon which a fish gets stranded.
This is all well and good, although in this instance, the three-part nature of the piece hints at something not yet fully fledged. With the surreal comes a need for clarity in the storytelling that is not always fulfilled here. I found myself marvelling at the invention and enjoying the madness of puppet pottery, cotton-wool waves and scribbled cats that turn into devils – but I’d have liked to know a great deal more about how and why you get trapped in a strait-jacketed world of Perspex. And who are the armless, pointy-footed figures that dance about like Isadora Duncan?
The show is maddest in the Perspex section, and funniest in Clay. But it is most emotionally acute and satisfying in Fish, when a baffled puppet with personality tries to make sense of an apparently senseless world.