FRAGILE: A Show Review by Amy Wall Lerman

Another gem for kids at the New Victory Theater in New York City! Fragile is a story about a man (or a boy) trying to find his way home along a very tricky road. Told through the art of magnificent puppetry, this show without words melds movement, sound and music into a language of story-telling.

When you enter the theater you are greeted by 3 colorfully dressed actors who assist the audience members as they find their seats.  When everyone seems settled, they stand quietly and wait for silence.  The audience waits with them.  With a quick nod from one to the other, they head off backstage and the magic unfolds in a pitch black theater. 

Against a black backdrop, the road unfolds – a thick illuminated line rolls out in the dark.  Then a man wearing baggy pants tied almost at the chest, a pair of clunky shoes and a little red hat starts his journey along the road.  Clutching a small suitcase which he struggles to hold onto throughout the show, it is unclear where he is journeying to or from – and ultimately it doesn’t matter anyway because, as we know, it’s not about where we are going, it’s about the road that takes us there.  The wind blows the man backward and forward, stealing his hat which bobs and bounces out of his reach.  The road, with a personality all its own, dips and rocks.  It turns into enormous waves lifting and churning the little man as he sleeps. The road hardens and breaks forcing him into an unwieldy balancing act – seemingly suspended for eternity until a butterfly lands gently beside him showing him the way to straighten things out.  We cheer the little man as he conquers each obstacle thrown his way and feel a sense of peace when he finally reaches his cozy house at the end of a long trip.

Fragile is a visual experience that borders on the surreal as the images move weightlessly across a side-lit puppet stage.  It is nearly impossible to imagine how 3 puppeteers can work together to create such harmonious movement – each object and form seem to float as easily as a feather bouncing through the air. 

Inspired by the Italian animation series, “La Linea” (The Line, 1975-84) by Osvaldo Cavandoli, FRAGILE is part two of a trilogy created in 2007.  The show is produced by the French troupe Les Clans des Songs was brought to New York’s New Victory Theater from France as part of a mini-festival called Ricochet – Arts for All Ages! – a series of shows from France designed for young audiences.  If you want to see it, you’ll have to be fast – it had a short run in New York City. It only runs only through May 12th.

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