Pointless Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty: A Puppet Ballet is an elusive, glistening, and highly original treasure that theater lovers must not miss before it vanishes after its final performance on May 3.
The production unfolds like a endearing dream and features eight accomplished, fanciful performers – Lee Gerstenhaber, Madeline Key, Devin Mahoney, Robert Christopher Manzo, Rachel Menyuk, David Lloyd Olson, Ruth Anne Watkins and Scott Whalen. It is a delightful hour-long swirl of ballet, whimsical pantomime, ephemeral humor and artistic puppetry. The ballet is set to Tchaikovsky’s emotionally luminous score, rendered over a stereophonic sound system and performed by the USSR Symphony Orchestra.
…highly original treasure that theater lovers must not miss before it vanishes…
Without a word spoken, the eight dancers depict the classic fairy tale of the beautiful princess (a golden-haired puppet) who is cursed by an evil fairy (a ghastly puppet) to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and sleep for a hundred years until a prince (a handsome puppet) awakens her with a kiss. Created by Kyra Corradin and Genna Davidson, these aren’t string puppets but large, life-like creations. They are quite beautiful and each maneuvered by as many as three dancers. The dancers manipulate their puppets as they cavort and dash on and off stage. They are like fairies themselves, as if gusting in like a breeze onstage to work their enchantment. Their faces convey the emotions of their puppets yet do not draw focus away from them.
It is a remarkable feat that, within the confined performance space of an intimate theatre seating perhaps forty, the action onstage is continuous, always brisk, yet never overcomplicated or awkward. Elegance and grace of movement flow without exception throughout the show. It seems a wonder that the dashing dancers never collide. All this is to the credit of director Matt Reckeweg, choreographer Olivia Reed and to the dancers themselves who worked out much of their routines in improvisational rehearsals.
The result is a seamless delivery of one delightful moment after another. A particularly magic moment is when the evil fairy puppet transforms into a very large dragon. Another is the climatic and beautiful puppet kiss of Sleeping Beauty and her handsome prince.
By all means, do see this show. You will be charmed and long remember it with a smile.
Running Time: One hour with no intermission. Suitable for all ages.
Sleeping Beauty: The Puppet Ballet runs April 9 through May 3, Wednesday–Saturday at 8:00 pm and a Saturday matinee at 2:00 pm. Flashpoint Mead Theatre Lab, 916 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tickets can be purchased online at www.pointlesstheatre.com and www.culturaldc.org.