I braved the outrageous storm to get to FTH:K’s Pictures of You that had two shows on this evening. The showings formed part of the Out the Box festival on this week at the Little Theatre Complex. There was a bit of irritating confusion with the tickets (I didn’t know that the Computicket Box Office was in the Little Theatre foyer and there was no signage about that) and then quite a few performers in other shows got free access to the small venue without waiting for paying patrons to be seated. I rejected an offer to sit on the floor (thank the gods! I would never have managed; the show was over an hour and it was freezing.) And then the lights went out and the show began.
Pictures of You is a wordless performance, detailing the troubled relationship between a strange married couple. Liesl de Kok and Dorian Burstein are directed by Rob Murray with puppets (and masks I imagine too) by Janni Younge and sound by James Webb.
I found the whole experience intense, riveting and totally disturbing. Liesl and Dorian were absolutely incredible, physically realising the characters with such precision and detail that, even with huge unmoving masks, they were incredibly moving. Rob has directed them with vision and the quirky and surreal set (that was slightly cumbersome at times) was beautiful and strange, as was James Webb’s soundscape.
I loved the relationship between the characters. I loved the tea ritual. I loved their bed. I loved his drunk vision, especially the moving water in the picture. I loved the creepy puppet. I loved the on again off again flickering lights. I loved the sentimental songs and the strange and eerie florescent light sounds. I loved the strange little door that the puppet bride came out of. I loved the masks which made me feel so sad. I felt like I was watching a different Triplets of Belleville (which I love).
So, for me, the biggest problem was that I tried my hardest but I didn’t understand what was going on. Was the puppet a dream, a fantasy, a ghost, a past memory, a vision of a different wife? Was he dreaming, trapped in memory, haunted? Did he kill somebody for real? What was the chest and the key? What was the story of the rope? Why did the ghost bride lose her head? I was desperate to know what was happening and my confusion pulled me out of the action a bit. And then I started becoming aware of who was doing what backstage and how it was all working. But that didn’t last. I was sucked in to this strange world of sadness and longing and the most fragile of moments. And it was extraordinary.