New York City Theater
THE NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL FRINGE FESTIVAL
At P.S. 122, 150 First Ave.
Combining puppetry with all kinds of debris, director Colette Searls and her cast of three turn the throwaway objects strewn about the stage into art forms. How appropriate to use the symbols of our throwaway society! And clearly a new way to recycle! Plastic bags, paper scraps, rags, scotch tape all come into their own, stars of the show. The three puppeteers—Erica Lauren McLaughlin, Katie Sasso, and Jessie Touart—are barely visible in their black attire and black derbies—as they create life from their materials.
Mostly this 40-minute show is slow-going, low-keyed, and amateurish, with too many stretches of waiting. But “Basura!” (the word for trash in Spanish) does have its high moments. The opening gambit has two of the actors reading identical newspapers, which they fold and manipulate, turning the newspapers into dancing legs. Later, the show hits a momentary high, when the actors bunch up plastic bags and suddenly a human-sized figure emerges, struts upon the stage, and is finally laid to rest. And wispy rags become human forms, dueling with abandoned curtain rods.
Fortunately, director Searls uses a wide range of musical forms to bridge the gaps and back up the players. Everything from rhythm and blues to eastern music helps give more substance to the show. Yet, all told, “Basura!” feels more like a work in progress than a finished piece.
-- Irene Backalenick
Aug. 13, 2005