NORDLAND VISUAL THEATRE
In cooperation with
BABY UNIVERSE: A Puppet Odyssey
Written and Directed by Kirjan Waage and Gwendolyn Warnock
Baruch Performing Arts Center
December 1, 2010 through January 8, 2011
Original Puppets by KIRJAN WAAGE
Costume and Mask Designer Gwendolyn Warnock
Creative producer and U.S. Executive Producer Gabrielle Brechner
Directing Consultant Daniel Goldstein
Composer Lars Petter Hagen
Video Artist NAHO TARUISHI
Lighting Designer Kate Leahy
Sound Designer Brett Jarvis
Set Design by Wakka Wakka and Joy Wang
Press Representative JIM BALDASSARE
Puppeteers: Melissa Creighton, Andrew Manjuck, Peter Russo, Kirjan Waage, and Gwendolyn Warnock
BABY UNIVERSE: A Puppet Odyssey is an original theater piece featuring over 30 puppets, animated video projections, and a Stephen Hawking inspired robot that literally greets attendees at the theater. This production marks the U.S. premiere. The story is set on a planet of the future, presumably Earth, on the verge of destruction. The sun is dying, and few people remain, but scientists are desperately attempting to preserve humanity through the "birth" of baby universes in the hope that one will survive and provide a new planet to inhabit.
The central character here is baby universe 7001, portrayed by a variety of puppets and projections. It is quickly apparent that this baby may be the one to thrive, and also that danger looms. BABY UNIVERSE is a place where many of the babies have seemingly run off, dashing hopes for survival as the local station Apocalypse Radio broadcasts increasingly gloomy news.
As with any successful puppet-based performance, BABY UNIVERSE wins over the audience by not only telling an interesting story, but by employing puppeteers who are adept at humanizing their charges. From the curious baby universe 7001, to a bawdy barfly band of planets to an angry, dying sun, personality comes through, and evolves. Baby universe 7001 has the widest arc, going from infancy through a "terrible twos" stage where he throws a tantrum over wearing a hat, to developing enough to return to his mother in time to save the world.
The narrative of BABY UNIVERSE does not touch on the social, religious or moral aspects it implies with any depth, but the telling is fast-paced and steady, running at about 65 minutes in total. While not intended as a children’s show, content is appropriate for those 7 and up, and older children will likely appreciate the production. I attended with an 8 year old who thought it was, to quote, amazing.
Wakka Wakka delivers what it promises with BABY UNIVERSE: A Puppet Odyssey. It is a unique look at a world of the future presented by a tight ensemble to great effect with engrossing visuals.
- Kessa De Santis -