Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hungry For You

Dark and funny adult puppetry is back in Hobart !

Directed by Merophie Carr and seen at the Peacock Theatre, Hobart

Gai Anderson

It’s a rare treat to see new independently created local theatre in Hobart and Hungry for You, created by puppeteer/ performers Mel King , Kirsty Grierson and Mel Mills- Hope (as Extended Play Projects) had me transfixed from the first moment at the Peacock Theatre last weekend.

This visually stunning and sophisticated piece of story-telling blends actors, shadow and bunraku puppetry, live cooking, and projections to take us into the world of glamorous celebrity chef and food artist extraordinaire Pippa Corelli. But all is not well with Pippa as her obsession with food takes a surprising, satirical and sometimes hysterical journey into the dark side of our very contemporary enthralment with all-things-food.

Referencing everyone from Hestons Feast to Nigella, the glamorous Pippa is cleverly played alternately by both actor Mel King, and by her very life like stunt-double puppet. Grierson and Mills - Hope are her kitchen hands, but are also the literal hands of the puppet Pippa, their nuanced manipulation bringing her vivaciously to life.

Its such a pleasure to see these masterful women at their art, their skillful animation making you almost forget that this is actually a puppet. Manipulating one arm each, Pippas tongue-in cheek, dramatic TV cooking moves are stretched literally to the max with great humor, as she chops, pours, cooks and flips, to create her works of beautiful food art before our eyes. Its easy to see that this character has been created by artists who are also working mothers and in her second cooking sequence Pippas multiskilling steps up to the challenge with two sets of arms!

The luscious Mel King is superb as the human version of Pippa, and her stage presence is at times electrifying. Her exquisitely paced romantic dinner with the roast chicken, is a stand-out theatre sequence to rival any, which had me squirming in my seat with both delight and discomfort at the same time.

Without text the shows’ evocative and dream-like feel is driven and underscored by a stand-out soundtrack mix of electronics and live strings from Mathew Fargher. His electronically wired vegetables are a wonderful quirky addition.

The set, puppets and design of Ros Wren are inspiring, the rice paper body lit from the inside an absolute vision on stage. Along with the satirical film clips, cooking cams and atmospheric lighting from Jason James, they together create a crisp and lush aesthetic for the whole piece. This slides seamlessly from the designer-kitchen fun of TV-world into the viscerality of laboratory-land and finally to the gothic black-mass meditation of the last scene. 

Hungry for You is brave and challenging, it’s full of surprises, floating in my memory and leaving me thinking long after I have left the theatre.

With very limited funding for the Arts available to Theatre in Tasmania, this is the debut full-scale theatrical production for these talented women, which has been 5 years in creation. By necessity it has also been an act of obsession. 
Surely all this hard work will now be paid off  with more readily forthcoming support for this shows future life and for the creation of many more magnificent projects to come. I really hope so.

1 comment:

  1. I agree Gai.

    I loved this show for its innovation and the seamless layers of production that worked together so well; puppetry, projection, music, movement... It was a feast!



What do you think?