Thursday, May 19, 2005

I sold my soul for a pomegranate.

So I went to the new adult puppet show, "XPT: Xperimental Puppetry Theater," last night not knowing what to expect. I didn't know whether the people at the Center for Puppetry Arts had read my review and invited me back so that they could, I guess, string me up - so to speak - for what I wrote earlier about "Anatomy of Melancholy," that pretentious puppet show featuring a Sept. 11 re-enactment.

Somewhere in my head, of course, I knew exactly what I was doing there. I was invited back to the Center to give the "art of adult puppetry," I think it was called, another chance.

And, with its new show, the Center for Puppetry Arts has converted me. I'm all about the puppet love now. Forgive me if I show a glaring lack of cynicism in this review. I promise I've not been brainwashed by the Blue Fairy into believing puppets can become "real." Also, this is not a plugola scandal involving my site and the Center for Puppetry Arts.

I just really liked "XPT." It's a fun, fun show. And, not coincidentally, it's running from tonight until May 22, and you can buy tickets here.

To tell you why I laughed out loud during some of it, I have come up with this list:


1. A green pear doing a sexually-explicit table dance.
2. A Creative Loafing "Karma Cleanser" letter brought to life in a stage production.
3. My friend Chris from Freshman English on a stage with no pants. (Though, for some reason, it didn't surprise me to see him using his "announcer voice" while pretending to be a news anchor.)
4. A re-enactment of a 1986 Russian video game called "Glasnost," featuring a falling hammer and sickle.
5. Frankenstein's monster dressed as a pimp.
6. Animal from THE MUPPET SHOW attacking the new Pope.
7. A puppet learning the hazards of attending a candlelight vigil.
8. Use of the word "humansexual" after a puppet and a woman start making out in front of a bandanna-wearing, angry beaver from Compton.
9. Puppets, puppeteers and a set entirely covered with black-and-white horizontal stripes.
10. A creature with eyes made out of badminton birdies performing a song about loneliness.

Granted, "XPT" is an anthology show of six skits, and some of them work better than others. (The "Rapunzel" skit, which is performed on one side of the stage while the sound engineers mess around on the other side of it in full view, falls flat.)

The first skit, the one with all the stripes, seems equally influenced by Samuel Beckett and Shel Silverstein. It's strange and confusing, but it inevitably works as an interesting piece of stagecraft.

Four of the skits really, really entertained me, and it almost made me wish that I'd bought my own ticket so that I could show these people my support.

But, since my ticket was comped last night, the best that I'll be able to do for the Center for Puppetry Arts is to go back for another show and another. (Their revival of "Avanti, Da Vinci!," one of their biggest adult hits, opens this summer, and I plan to be there.)

A friend of mine told me nine years ago that we in Atlanta didn't know how lucky we were to have the Center for Puppetry Arts, for it can, at times, feature the most innovative, wacky theater. Having seen something edgy and fun like "XPT," I know exactly what he meant.

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