Mixing puppetry and produce
By Stephanie Merry
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Entering the Warehouse’s black box theater for “Planet Egg” feels like venturing into a mad scientist’s laboratory. On either side of a large projector, audience members are met with two tables scattered with debris -- cans and tubes and bowls of unidentifiable yellow liquid. These items are the fuel that powers this inventive, nutty and wonder-inspiring production.
Puppet Cinema is the New York-based group behind the genre-defying spectacle, and three of its members remain onstage during the course of the show: puppeteers Zvi Sahar and Justin Perkins and sound designer Ien DeNio. As the lights go down, the trio gets to work, creating miniature scenes on a rotating set, which are projected onto the screen above. The story kicks off with a crash landing, when a robot finds itself stranded on Planet Egg, which is populated by veggie-beings. Searching for food, the robot has chance encounters with a somewhat lethargic green onion and little mushrooms that hop around squeaking the show’s lone intelligible word (“Shroom!”).
What unfolds is a story that, amazingly, promises adventure, suspense, even a dose of romance. All this is set to DeNio’s marvelous low-tech sound work, which replicates the noises of a flying saucer, the non-start of a faulty engine and gloopy sloshing when one character tries to free itself from a puddle of egg yolk.
As movie budgets get ever more bloated and 3-D and IMAX films become increasingly widespread, it’s heartening to see what can be accomplished without all the bells and whistles. It turns out, all you really need is a little bit of produce and a lot of imagination.