The Great Small Stages
by Tess Elliott
Little Blue Moon Theater performs “Roman Reverie” [Vallejo, CA]
Was all set to have a good time with this show, though it was raunchier (in its tasteful nudity) than “Mutiny on the Bounty” and I so missed Michael's uke. But the star of the puppet-mimed show was Valerie Nelson's stunning soprano ringing out, which I had never heard before. Mama Mia! She can sing such operatic, passionate accompaniment to their hilarious sexy romp, all through new and ancient erotic Rome. There is no dialog: the show is like a moving picture book. Our intrepid couple arrive in Rome and have a fight at dinner on their first night. She takes off to a gorgeous magical waterfall the next day where the fun begins. If you have never seen a paper doll striptease, it is something absolutely insane and funny. Hunky Roman soldiers come through, and she is taken off for her captive adventures. I can't remember all the captors but her fun seems to peak at a Bachian orgy complete with goat legged fauns. She recreates Leda and the Swan. She becomes the adopted pet of a family of centaurs for awhile. After that she is carried off a prisoner.
Her estranged sweetheart ends up at those same magical waterfalls where he is accosted by a group of water nymphs who carry him off disrobed and startled. He goes through his own adventures ending up becoming a gladiator, where somehow HE manages to kill the deadly lion, and is carried off a hero (and of all things, he still has on his nerdy glasses). Like Julius Caesar, he is loved by men and women. He is invited to the Emporer's palace (I decided it was Tiberius's Palace on Capri) where he is seduced by the Emperor's woman, and then by the Emperor. As they are all becoming friends, he looks out to see his lady strung up naked on some stony pillars as an Andromeda-style sacrifice to the gods, and our brave hero becomes Perseus to battle Poseidon to save her. A good time was had by all. We see them headed for the airport all lovey dovey. The End.
Yulya Dukhovny performs "Fisherman's Dream" [Los Angeles, CA]
This was an interesting piece that had some very lovely music recorded on a soundtrack for a toy theater video. Music was the first career of this artist. This was a sort of turnabout of reality and scale, because the tiny toy theater and puppets were built and filmed on a REAL beach (she has great outtakes at the end), and the real toy theater fisherman's shanty, and other scenes are in a real little toy theater, accompanying the video when it's usually the other way around. Also a little turned around are photos mixed in with more primitive drawing like the shanty, but collaged with turn of the century characters who become background to the story. You have heard forms of it all your life. A fisherman catches a magical “fish” who offers him anything if he would let her go. He doesn't need anything, and kindly lets her go, but tells his old wife about it and she demands he go back and ask for a new washtub. He does. Magically a new washing machine pops up on the beach and her laundry comes out already clipped to a clothesline. Then she wants a pretty cottage. And we all know, this is just the beginning.
I do like the way Ms. Dukhovny presents the tired old Fisherman who looks sad and worn out. He is a puppet with a real human face among the nets, looking thin (and probably embarrassed over his wife's greed). He has to go back and ask for a life that is better than being peasants, and she is never satisfied. At the end, she demands the impossible—to be the mistress of the magical sea goddess, and happily—it all goes back to normal again. As if nothing happened. It was a gift to the Fisherman, and she does not seem to remember her former lofty elevation. This is an adaptation of Pushkin's fairy tale about magical Golden Fish (the artist is Russian, and lived in Israel many years). I look forward to seeing more by this artist.