Bruce

Best word to describe Bruce, a show built entirely around a block of yellow sponge: Absorbing.

The duo’s alacrity in switching character and voices, the grace and flow of their choreographed moves are not just impressive – they’re astonishing.

Australian puppeteering mimes Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd disappear against black backdrops in their black-on-black full body covers as they work in tandem center stage to make the big hunk of foam and two white-gloved hands come to life as the title character (plus dozens more). Other shows may spend fortunes on costumes, props and scenery. This one forgoes fancy trappings in favor of mastering the subtleties of gesture, light and sound.

By the end, you’ll swear you’ve seen facial expressions cross Bruce’s big foam face, with its slit for a mouth and two plastic googly eyes. You’ll remember images from intergalactic space travel, Old West saloons and other locales Bruce visits. It’s all your imagination, and that’s the point of a show where less is more entertaining than other productions with lots of stuff.

The script of Bruce is a whimsical pastiche of adventure movie clichés, from sci-fi (“open the pod bay doors”) to Westerns to rom-coms. Bruce is a heroic, ambitious astronaut who gets caught in a loop somewhere on the space-time continuum. To a soundtrack of pop tunes, film scores and sound effects, in scenes punctuated by precisely timed light changes (nice tech work all around), Bruce time travels, meeting friends and foes, all played by that same chunk of cheese-colored foam and two gloves. He falls in love, sings Why by Annie Lennox and comes to realise that time is an illusion and only the present is real.

Bruce is strange and funny, sweet and smart, full of meta references (Bruce does say “Kowabunga” to acknowledge his resemblance to that other yellow animated blockhead) and rife with metaphysical observations. Bruce hopscotches back and forth through time, repeating his mistakes and then, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, learning from them. A refresher course in living in the now.

The performers quickly establish the different voices, accents and physical silhouettes of the many characters, including a brash Irish bartender, a one-eyed gunslinger, a love interest and a wise old geezer with a walking frame. The duo’s alacrity in switching character and voices, the grace and flow of their choreographed moves are not just impressive – they’re astonishing.

This is the same team that created and performed two previous festival hits, The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik and It's Dark Outside. Looks like Bruce will be plenty sponge-worthy, too. Try to squeeze it in.

Reviews by Elaine Liner

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The Blurb

The creators of award-winning international smash hits The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik and It's Dark Outside are back with a new lo-fi puppetry spectacular that bends time and melts your heart. Keeping you at the edge of your seat, Bruce will sweep you away on an adventure of love and revenge. He may be a yellow block of foam, but Bruce's out to prove he's got a heart of pure gold. Fusing mime and puppetry, Bruce is a non-stop rollercoaster of action, adventure and low-fi nostalgia. 'Bruce is brilliant ... funny, heart-warming and simply a joy to watch' (OutInPerth.com).

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