Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Review of Rough House's Sad Songs for Bad People: A Puppet Play

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Sad Songs for Bad People. It was co-directed by Mike Oleon and Jeremy Ohringer. The text was by Claire Saxe and the play was devised by the performing ensemble. This was a puppet show but it wasn't like a slapstick comedy puppet show; this wasn't anything close to that. It was a sad-song and scary-song puppet show. But then there were little pieces of comedy because sometimes the way people died or what they did was so ridiculous. I thought it was super exciting, and I saw puppets (designed by Grace Needlman and Cammi Upton) in a brand new dark and scary and funny way.

My favorite song was "Step It Out Nancy" by Robin and Linda Williams. It was about a girl named Nancy (Kay Kron) who had been betrothed to a man she didn't love because she was in love with a cowboy. In this song they used one-dimensional puppets and shadow puppets, and I thought it was cool to see the transition from one kind of puppet to another, and sometimes both at the same time. They had canvas that they flipped over for each new scene, like it was a drawing pad, and it would create new characters and new scenery. This song was really awesome because the woman in the song didn't let people just take things from her. She wanted to fight for things. Even though she couldn't control who she married, she still was very powerful.

There were two people named Jam Jam (Sean Hughes) and Whiskers (Andrew Yearick) and they were the musicians for the play. I thought it was awesome that they had live music. It also added a comedy act because while the sets were being changed they would do this short little comedy act. And it usually went wrong somehow, like someone wouldn't get the joke or somebody would get into a argument about what the joke meant. And I thought that was very hilarious and it made the set changes more entertaining and gave you a break from bawling about the sad songs.

There was this medley called "Teen Tragedies" which was three different songs ("The Hero," "Nightmare," and "Leader of the Pack") about scary accidents that happened to teens and they put it all into one story. There were three different girls (Kron, Maddy Low, and Saxe) who had these tiny bodies but huge heads. And the heads were people's heads but the bodies were puppets' bodies. Seeing that weirds you out, but in a good way. At first it is pretty funny, but then when you find out one of them killed somebody, it is very creepy. It is like thinking that Littlest Pet Shop toys are going to come kill you in the night. I loved how they put two accidents, which was a bus accident and a motorcycle accident, and they put them together and made them one big 'palooza of death and gore. So there were mashed-up songs and mashed-up people.

There was this song called "The Curse of Millhaven" by Nicholas Edward Cave, which was all about this girl (Oleon) who was the curse of Millhaven because she had a taste for murder. I loved the puppets. They looked kind of like a little kid's drawing and that made it even more creepy. Creepiness level: 100%. Everything seemed so nice and then it all went wrong when you saw the other side. Like the houses looked like nice colorful houses, but when you turned them around there was a dead woman inside.

People who would like this show are people who like creepy murder songs, powerful women, and figurative and literal mashups. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It is a small company that should get noticed, and I really loved this show.

Photos: Kaitie Saxe, Zach Sigelko.

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