Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review of The House Theatre of Chicago's A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called A Comedical Tragedy for Mister Punch. It was by Kara Davidson and it was directed by Shade Murray. It was about this girl named Charlotte/Charlie (Sarah Cartwright) who lives on the streets and she meets this puppet master named Pietro (Adrian Danzig). Pietro offers room and board in exchange for her helping him with his puppet show. And they were trying to avoid the law who is represented by a single Officer (Will Casey) because Pietro didn't have the proper papers to be in England. And she is trying to get Pietro and Polly (Echaka Agba) together, but their relationship is confusing to her and to them. I thought this was a fun show. I thought the puppets (by Jesse Mooney-Bullock) were amazing and I liked the story a lot!

I thought the puppets were really great and I thought it was very cool how they had actual puppets and actors in costumes (by Izumi Inaba) that were designed like puppets. One of my favorite costumes and puppets was the dog (Owais Ahmed). The dog was like a giant mop made out of Charlotte's hair when she cut it to become Charlie. I liked that because the entire time it looked like what her hair looked like in the beginning. Joey the Clown (Joey Steakley) was another very cool looking puppet and costume. And he also had a great really funny personality--the nervous guy who doesn't want to lose his job and is really giddy all the time. I really loved the Crocodile (Michael E. Smith) costume too. I liked how the tails on the coat acted like an actual tail for the Crocodile. And the speech he gave about being a crocodile was hilarious too! Punch (Johnny Arena) and Judy (Carolyn Hoerdermann) are very classic puppets. Almost everyone knows what they look like. These particular designs were kind of grotesque, and I find Punch and Judy actually kind of scary, so I think that was very appropriate. They did look like the classic Punch and Judy, but because they are human sized I think it might have been even more disturbing.

I have never been a person who enjoys watching the violence of Punch and Judy. The first time I saw a Punch and Judy story I got very upset because it wasn't just quarreling; it was very violent murder and betrayal, and the rest of the audience thought it was just hilarious because it was unrealistic and it was puppets. And almost every Punch and Judy show, Punch kills his and Judy's baby and that makes me feel very sad because it was just an innocent baby that couldn't do anything. I liked that in this show Charlie feels the same way I do about the violence and murder in Punch and Judy. In this show there is actual realistic violence between the humans, which I think is a great comparison to the puppet violence in the show because it might make people think about what they are laughing at in Punch and Judy. I think it is okay to laugh at horrible things when they are exaggerated, but it is good to be reminded that in real life the things Punch does are very awful things.

I noticed something about the relationship of Pietro, Polly, and Charlie. It is like the Punch, Judy and Joey relationship because Charlie runs around all the time for Pietro and Polly and Pietro seem like they really like each other a lot. But by the end they aren't getting along anymore, which when you see the end of the show is even sadder. When you have the comparison between puppets and people, that makes you think about the Punch and Judy relationship and why you are laughing at it. The comparison of Charlie and Joey shows you that they both need more recognition for all their hard work from their bosses.

People who would like this show are people who like awesome puppets, examining why we laugh at violence, and crocodile coattails. I think people should go see this show. I really enjoyed it and it made me think a lot.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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