Puzzle the Puzzle

The room of a poet is dimly lit by desk lamps. Stacks of books are piled around the floor, and strewn about are various memorabilia. We watch the imagination of the poet take flight and flit in surprising directions as he seeks inspiration from his surroundings. Flicking through the pages, he recites to himself quotes pulled out from his favourite writers. His ears prick at a commotion outside on the street. A man yells for help; a car crashes; police come to investigate. The poet watches through the window, absorbing the scene, making it his own. A child begs his mother to buy him a toy; the poet visits a couple of prostitutes. These mini-events on stage may well be ruminations of his past, or a fantasy, but they are always a blur.

What is most affecting about this performance is the beauty behind how visual and aural effects come together.

While the poet gently paces around the room, often standing still, deep in thought, an actress wearing all black plays the physical manifestation of the poet’s thoughts. When the poet has a moment of great inspiration, the actress takes a book and makes it airborne. When the poet remembers events of his past, she enacts them, using miniature figures as props.

What is most affecting about this performance is the beauty behind how visual and aural effects come together. Toy cars, miniature boots, miniature figures are called upon to enact the poet’s train of thought. Pearls are unravelled from scrunched up pieces of paper. The poet ties a string across the room, for a toy figure to trapeze along. A lighthouse flickers through the dimness. The clink of the pearls falling into a glass rings out beautifully and fills the room, while the poet searches for a phrase to jot down.

The translation of the text used for the show, however, requires some proof-reading, and it also needs editing in several places to smooth out awkward phrases. At times I also found the actress’s performance in certain scenes - in particular, the scenes with the mother and daughter, with the young and old couples, and with the prostitutes - to be overacted. Compared to the overall beauty of the show, though, these are lesser points. Ironing them out would make Puzzle the Puzzle a truly exquisite show.

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The Blurb

The poet dreams and writes in a corner, his soul flying beyond the confine imposed by the tiny squares of the Chinese manuscript paper. This object and movement theatre has toured bookshops in Asia and Europe. Created by Macao-based Taiwanese artist Hope Chiang, a graduate of the MFA Theatre Directing program of Middlesex University, this miniature theatre was nominated for the Taishin Arts Award of Taiwan in 2007. Exploring the mind map of the poet during the creation of a poem, this work is dedicated to all arts workers who devote their lives to their disciplines.