I like puppets.
I actually think it's a pretty cool way to express theater and art.
My friend is Cody Moore, an amazing artist and theatrical personality that I've had the pleasure of working with at various points in my own theater career. I own one of his paintings, which is hanging on the wall beside me at the moment that I'm typing. It was a birthday present from my wife. He's awesome- and in everything he does he puts his heart and soul into it and it always shows. He's fantastic!
Belladonna's Rom of Mysterious Mysteries is presented by Cody and Ricki Vincent at Paper Wing Fremont- it's an interesting spectacle of storytelling and variety show shenanigans anchored by Moore's full body puppetry that he carries on his shoulders- figuratively and literally. And he absolutely shines.
Cody Moore is Belladonna, a witch or fortune teller with a shop of mystery and amazement- she hosts the audience with comedic shenanigans and introduces the various acts taking place. The full body suit reminds me a little of the Hags from Labrynth and the facial construction of the witch is full on outstanding- one eye bulges while another squints through a lid forced half shut by wrinkles.
The Mirror Ghost was fantastic- I cracked up with her false finishes and facial expressions, even if the mirror's twist made it a little difficult to follow from certain angles. The performance was well done.
The strip teasing puppetry was fluid and very fun to watch work.
And then there was Jody Gilmore with a nice nod to the original Frankenstein when he introduced the show and its' performers.
And then there was Ricki Vincent- who started the show with a very passionate nod to his own art that I appreciated very deeply right up until he decided to talk about people who dropped out of the project for whatever reason they felt necessary. Calling out a specific show by name, citing specific incidents and insulting these people who were unable to DONATE their fucking time to his project was classless and immediately set my hackles up since I do know precisely how valuable a commodity time can be in an art form. Any art form.
And the fact is that I wish I could've let it go at that- but he continues his form of "art" by attacking people during his own performance (The only dialogue not previously recorded) by going after Republicans. I already criticized the last show I saw for doing such a thing- obviously I'm going to be consistent here.
As these were the only real drawbacks to the performance I do still recommend it. I think puppetry is awesome and Cody Moore really carries on with an amazing performance- Other shout outs to the stripper marionette and the fluid control with which the handlers brought life to the figure. The set was well done and I loved the little Subspecies in the jar near the mirror- love Full Moon Video.
3 out of 5.
*EDIT NOTE: The portion featuring the demon Dante was an "ad lib" part of the show where the demon takes questions from the audience. The issue regarding the attack on Republicans may not be indicative of additional shows throughout the run, but as I'm only able to write about the shows I actually see I can't comment regarding shows I haven't seen. I apologize if my thoughts were in any way misleading. Additionally, I don't want anyone to take my views too seriously... I'm a guy on a computer with an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.
I am adding this note because I've been battering myself for the past 24 hours regarding whether I should share my thoughts or not. I've talked about it with colleagues and friends, none of whom are saying I should take down my thoughts- I'm adding this note because while I may have had a difference of opinion that in no way diminishes my respect for ANY of the performers as artists. That includes Ricki Vincent, who I do admire for his innovations in the realm of puppetry and performance art. And this show has so much going for it that my few issues should not be seen as anything close to a condemnation or slam- they're just the ranting opinions of a guy who occasionally can't keep his opinions in his head.