Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema

This is Manual Cinema’s first visit to the Fringe and they have brought with them a technical and awe-inspiring show that combines live music and shadow puppets.

Ada / Ava has the makings of a cult hit

Ada and Ava have lived their entire lives together, so when Ava dies unexpectedly the surviving sister finds it difficult to carry on without her only companion. The story is told with four projectors as they swap slides and mix in real actors. It’s truly cinematic and it boggles the mind how complicated it must be. With these methods, it’s easy enough to make it look like someone is flying, but an utter faff to make them open a drawer. Both are achieved with great success.

It’s got quite an odd rhythm and never quite takes you in the direction you expect it will. It moves from horror, to comedy, and drama in quick succession, and there was a more than a few moments where I had lump in my throat or something in my eye.

The style is very reminiscent of German Expressionism, and it’s darkly beautiful. Seeing the scenes constructed before your very eyes is really something to behold.

Further cementing its link with silent films, there is no dialogue, just sound effects and music. The score is great; it has distinct movements and recurring motifs that really help you understand what the character is feeling. You might not want to listen to on the way to work, but it certainly is a triumph in this setting.

Ada / Ava has the makings of a cult hit and I’ll certainly be waiting in eager anticipation to see what Manual Cinema brings to the next Fringe.

Reviews by James W. Woe

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The Blurb

'Manual Cinema is talent incarnate' (Time Out). 'This Chicago troupe is conjuring phantasms to die for in an unclassifiable story of spectral beauty' (New York Times). Manual Cinema uses hundreds of shadow puppets, overhead projectors, actors and live music to tell a story of the fantastic and supernatural. Bereaved of her twin sister Ava, septuagenarian Ada solitarily marks time in the patterns of a life built for two. A traveling carnival and a trip to a mirror maze plunge her into a journey across the thresholds of life and death.