Wood Boy Dog Fish - What is Real?

 

Based on Italian author Carlo Collodi’s “The Adventures of Pinnochio,” WOOD BOY DOG FISH is anything but predictable. Throw away your Disney concept of Pinnochio and start screen-turning in “Wikipedia” to discover just how different Collodi’s story, written in 1883, is from the sanitized fairy tales of today. In fact, this is an adults-only version of the popular puppet tale - complete with a cricket that gets killed within minutes of Pinocchio’s awakening, a mysterious blue spirit who resembles Geppeto’s dead wife, an evil cat and fox who hold Gepetto under their control, a Funland where lazy little boys and girl may turn into donkeys, and last - but definitely not least - a dog fish who swallows interlopers into his realm as he preys on their greatest fears.

 

WOOD BOY DOG FISH - Puppet (Rudy Martinez with puppeteers Lisa Dring and Mark Royston) and Geppetto (Ben Messmer) - Photo by Chelsea Sutton

 

While in a drunken stupor, Gepetto (Ben Messmer) crafts the puppet whose adventures will follow. In an interesting touch, the puppet remains nameless throughout the play. Blue (Nina Silver) becomes the puppet’s savior as he naively gets into scrapes because of a blown-up ego, a strong need for excitement and fun, and a failure to think of the consequences of his actions. He is burned, hanged, and tested in multiple awful ways before he finally comes to realize where he belongs. Throughout the tale, he longs to be real - but he doesn’t know how to achieve that goal. The secret of transformation is revealed as the show closes.

 

WOOD BOY DOG FISH - The Fire Eater (Paul Turbiak) and Puppet with Puppeteers - Photo by Chelsea Sutton

 

Add to this version of Pinnochio the multiple talents of the Rogue Artists Ensemble - a collective of puppeteers, designers, and creative media magicians - and you have a production which teases every sense with sound, music, dance, costumes, lights, and interactive sets. Only such a group could make Pinnochio’s nose visibly grow as he weaves stories - to the vast amusement of the audience. He doesn’t seem to realize that “...lies make your legs grow shorter or your nose grow longer.” The spectacular second act features the use of 3-D glasses which make life under the sea glow with excitement and macabre terror. In fact, WOOD BOY DOG FISH is so full of spectacle that you almost forget the story while regarding the wonderful marvels offered by the talented creative artists who put together the show. At times, the production is so vibrant that it almost overwhelms the audience.

 

WOOD BOY DOG FISH - Puppet and Puppeteers, Blue (Nina Silver) - Photo by Chelsea Sutton

 

The award-winning Rogue Artists Ensemble has incorporated puppets, actors, song, dance, masks, projected media, special effects, and theatrical illusions into an art form they call “hyper-theater.” They have outdone themselves in this production, which captures every sense and is brimming with clever electric details. Kudos to the entire production team.

 

WOOD BOY DOG FISH - Puppet and Puppeteers, Wick (Veronica Mannion) - Photo by Chelsea Sutton

 

WOOD BOY DOG FISH is performed on Thursdays at 7 p.m. (12/3 and 12/10), Fridays at 7 pm. (12/4 and 12/11), Saturdays at 7 p.m. (11/28, 12/5, 12/12), with special performances at 2 pm on Saturday 11/28 and Sunday 11/29. The play runs until December 12, 2015 at the Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057. Tickets cost $25 ($23 with advance purchase online) with $20 for seniors and students ($18 with advance purchase online). On Saturday, November 28 at 2 p.m., you pay what you can. For reservations, call 213-596-9468 or go online at www.bootlegtheater.org

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