Thursday, March 5, 2015

NUFONIA MUST FALL Adelaide Festival 2015

Nufonia Must Fall

Creator Eric San (Kid Koala). Director K.K. Barrett. Set design Benjamin Gerlis. Puppet designers and puppeteers Clea Minaker, Patrick Martel and Karina Bleau. Musical Score Kid Koala. Musical director, String arrangements and additional score Vid Cousins. Musical performers Kid Koala and the Afiara Quartet. Director of photography a.J. Korkidakis. Th Dunstan Playhouse. Adelaide Festival centre. Adelaide Festival. March 4-7.

Originally co-commissioned by Luminato Festival and the Adelaide Festival, the Banff Centre,Internationales Sommerfestival Hamburg, Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival, Groningen,Roundhouse UK and Santiago A Mil.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Nufonia Must Fall
You know that you are in for something different when the audience warm-up is a bingo game with a card of illustrations that will later feature in the silent movie love affair between a heartwarming out of work robot and a beautiful inventor. “Bingo! Shouts a man from the audience and walks to the Dunstan Playhouse stage to collect his prize, a personal copy of Nufonia Must fall, complete with a DVD of the animated puppet show, from none other than the show’s popular creator, Kid Koala a.k.a. Eric San.

The lonely Office Girl and the Out of Work Robot from Nufonia Must Fall
The lights dim, and we are lured into an enchanting wonderland of music, video, sound effects and puppetry. Dexterous puppeteers manipulate the puppet characters against miniature model sets to the sounds of a string quartet and Kid Koala on piano, synthesizer and turntable, as well as providing the vocal effects. Childlike magic weaves its spell, entrancing child and adult alike as the love story unfolds upon the large screen. From soothing melody to frenzied discord, the strings stir the emotions and underscore the action as the poor outdated robot is fired from one job after another and replaced by the latest model, ironically invented by the girl who has fallen for the cutely irresistible rod puppet robot. We are bewitched, our heartstrings pulled by the simple forlorn angle of the robots head, shocked by his accident with a bus and heartened by the girl’s ability to bring him back to life. We wince at the apparent betrayal and sigh with relief at the power of love to reunite and restore the love’s true passion. Nufonia Must Fall  is a love story that will soar with the power of music, puppetry and the eternal tale of triumphant love.

The unfolding narrative and engaging animation absorb our imagination and fascination. Beneath the screen, one can only imagine a delicately and finely choreographed pattern of brilliant collaboration between the puppeteers, who breathe life into the inanimate rod puppets, the video operators who move with the puppeteers from model set to model set and the stage manager and his team who ensure the symmetry of film and operation. Meanwhile Kid Koala and the Afiara Quartet of string instruments entice our hearts to feel the passion of the tale and our minds the engagement with life’s struggles and dreams, disappointments and joy.
Nufonia Must Fall is a theatrical experience at its most engaging and endearing. Creative, imaginative, and collaborative it is the theatre of the new age, entrancing and enticing and sharing the child’s world of wonderment with the adult’s world of detached fascination. For a time, Nufonia Must Fall reminds the adult that the child within still longs for a happy ending.

For those in the audience who retain the fascination with how something works, Nufonia Must Fall  will be an enduring inspiration.  Whether you are a child, completely absorbed by the story of the robot or an adult fascinated by the onstage magic of manipulation and operation, Nufonia Must Fall offers a new and refreshing art of storytelling that will delight all ages. Hopefully, it will have a life beyond Adelaide and the Festival. It is a charming entertainment for everyone.