Outlandish comedy dressed in old-fashioned charm
By Lois Maskiell
La Vie Dans une Marionette (Life in a Puppet) has all the ingredients of a truly charming show – combine the simple story of a lonely pianist with physical theatre and dress it in pantomime blanche, moustaches, tuxedos and voila! Children will gurgle with laughter and adults will chuckle in delight.
La Vie Dans une Marionette by New Zealand company, White Face Crew premiered at Auckland Fringe Festival in 2013 and has since toured to Melbourne and Edinburgh. This current production at Arts Centre Melbourne, kicks off with the audience being greeted at the door by rambunctious host and actor, Jarod Rawiri. Within minutes he’s arguing with Arts Centre’s voice over and interrupts to set his own rules. Eliciting much laughter, an audience member is called on stage and a lively demonstration of how to not be and how to be a good crowd follows.
Actor, Tama Jarman plays the charming, fat bellied Pianist who gracefully moves about the stage – his signature gesture is wiping sweat from his forehead like an English dandy dancing Beyoncé Knowles. Soon, Yann Tiersen’s and Tama Waipara’s compositions are heard, enchanting in their quaint simplicity.
When the host reappears, he’s dressed as a delivery man speaking gromalot – a nonsensical babble that’s hilariously frank. He delivers a box addressed to The Pianist which has within it a puppet of sorts. The Pianist discovers that The Puppet, who’s animated by dancer Christopher Ofanoa, can be manipulated by music. As The Puppet slowly comes alive, Ofanoa’s artistry is revealed and his technical ability is undeniable.
Through a mixture of dance, physical theatre and mime, rules are broken resulting in comedic mayhem – even in the most simplest of moments. In between The Puppet and The Pianist’s amicable shenanigans, our host intermittently returns in a fantastic head-piece as The Moon. Prancing around exuberantly, he declares it night and day. His outlandish comedy is spontaneous and boisterous with the slightest expression inducing tonnes of laugher.
Creators, Tama Jarman, Justin Haiu and Harod Rawiri have devised a brilliant and classic work with each performer’s distinct talents contributing to a rich team dynamic. In the final moments, The Puppet is packed away and a small piece of magic is left on his box as a reminder of good old-fashioned charm.
Dates: 16 – 20 January
Venue: Fairfax, Arts Centre Melbourne
Times: 2:00pm, 7:00pm
Prices: $25 – $35
Photo credit: Stephen A’Court, courtesy of Capital E National Arts Festival