Puppet. Book of Splendor

neTTheatre are an experimental Polish physical theatre company, who here produce what they describe as ‘the Clinic of Dreams’. There is back projection with cabbalistic symbols that mutate into their English translations: Justice, Beauty etc. The director talks to us over a microphone with a running commentary for the first twenty minutes or so, telling us what we are about to see, and explaining the meaning of what we are seeing now, for the hard of understanding. ‘It’s all very complex and cabalistic’; ‘Audiences say the first part is interesting and the second part is boring, so if you get bored, you know you are into the second half.’ This is funny for about five minutes. Make the most of it, because it’s the only funny thing in the show.

There are subtitles, which you cannot read because the overhead lighting on swirling dry ice obliterates half of them. In any case they come and go before you can read them. I just made out ‘We are a nothingness in our flesh and bones.’ Yeah, me too.

There are three angels in silver-white fright wigs, who sing in close harmony. A child with Hassidic ringlets who seems to be asking questions and playing with stones. Four dwarfs who do a dance. Five people in hessian sacks with numbers on them are whipped around in a circle by a ringmaster type who seems to be wearing convict pyjamas. Is this meant to be a concentration camp? Search me.

There is a lot going on all over the stage, but little attempt to organise it so your eye is drawn to specific images in a coherent way. In any case it is all terribly underlit, so you cannot see very well, and it is interminable. People who came in as teenagers went out as grannies; babies grew up and gave birth to their own babies in the stalls by the end.

Reviews by Peter Scott-Presland

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The Blurb

2011 Herald Angel and Total Theatre Award winners, neTTheatre come back with a Tadeusz Kantor-inspired project. A vibrant world of effigies, golems and mannequins viewed through cabalism. Welcome to the Clinic of Dreams! 

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