Frank is a middle-aged white guy with limited social circumstances. He is a clean-freak, coffee-addicted loner who is entranced by his organization’s safety manual. We know this without a single word, just the presence of a three-foot manipulated puppet with his mouth a straight line, the eyes magnified behind large glasses, hair of pasted down leather strips, perfect Sans-a-Belt slacks, and black leather lace-up shoes with white athletic socks. Frank measures the distance between objects on his desk for perfect placement and frequently polished his name-plate. He reads the safety manual, which drives the action in this one-hour puppet comedy.
Frank Is Funny
Frank abhors pigeons. They annoy him while eating lunch on his park bench. They begin to peck at his office window – ceaselessly. For those who love physical comedy like slipping on banana peel, Frank delivers. He falls off his office chair while trying to lower the uncooperative blind; unsuccessfully navigates an ocean of water in his out-tray supported by two large water bottle pontoons. Frank forgets he is a puppet. And so do we!
Puppet Theater is Magic
Such is the magic of puppet theater. An inanimate object with a frozen expression becomes capable of expressing a full range of emotions through the seamless, almost invisible manipulation of the puppeteers — usually three working Frank. Frank’s little puppet hands are mostly replaced by the human hands of the puppeteers, giving another dimension to his actions because the hands are proportionally much larger than the arm and body. The action is more easily visualized and dramatic.
Chicago International Puppet Festival Brings Excellent Puppeteers
This is a comic fantasy. We watch Frank go through the tortures of the avian-damned. The great flood is masterfully presented, giving the puppeteers more range for putting Frank through his paces. The pigeons are just like pigeons – stoic peckers who co-exist with humans, sharing beauty when we take the time to look at them closely. The recorded sound track is, in this writer’s view, an excellent mixture of the inane safety manual, original music and supportive sound effects.
Highly recommended for all ages by lovers of puppets, comedy and bird-nerds.
Director/Creator: Robin Frohardt
Music: Freddi Price
Voiceovers: Erica Livingston
Puppeteers: Robin Frohardt, Nick Lehane, Lillie Jayne, Emma Wiseman, Carl Kientz
For more information on upcoming Chicago International Puppet Festival performances read the Picture this Post preview - 2019 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival PREVIEW
Photos courtesy of Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and Instituto Cervantes
Reviewer Ann Boland is committed to Chicago theater. Involved in the audience since the early 80’s, she’s witnessed firsthand the rise of our theater scene, our exceptional local talent, and the vigor of each new generation. Ann handles public relations for authors and works on programs to help seniors with neurological movement disorders. Please visit her website for more information.
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