YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Fringe Festival : Puppeteer Mack Disappoints

September 11, 1987|RAY LOYND

Hand-puppeteer William Mack grins and introduces what he calls his "Cliff Notes version of Reader's Digest theater." We then get "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" in 8 1/2 minutes, with foam-ball heads in hats and collars enacting Dickens' characters from atop Mack's white-gloved hands.

Similar hand-puppet theatrics unfold "Gone With the Wind," "a blow-by-blow account in 13 minutes," and other stage classics (a ballet and a Shakespeare comedy).

Interspersed with this abbreviation are satiric video inserts of life on the road and backstage views of the troupe's raffishly entitled Royal Short Company.

But "An Evening with the r.s.c. (royal short company)" at the Little Victory Theater is a curiosity at best. The concept is blithesome but the two-act, multimedia show which Mack has toured with worldwide, generates torpor, not charm.

Mack operates from inside a spangled, box-like walking stage, the puppets prancing about on top of it. But vocally and visually, the production disappoints.

Mack only adequately vocalizes the cast members. The puppet faces are too indistinguishable. The "wit" fails to re-create or devilishly satirize the literary models. Only the balletic sequence becomes airborne. Puppetry has to be touched by the sublime or it's grueling.

Performances run at 3326 Victory Blvd., Burbank, Thursdays and Fridays , 8 p.m., Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m., Sundays 3 and 7 p.m. through Sept. 27. Tickets: $10-$15; (213) 465-0070.

Los Angeles Times Articles