Photo by Leslie Westbrook.
BOTTOM LINE: The Dream of the Marionettes is a vaudevillian fantasy where sexy showgirl puppets overthrow their master and put on their own performance.
The Dream of the Marionettes is a flashy, feather-flying variety show of bawdy burlesque. The music is very fun and catchy, the production abounds with clever, theatrical props, and the costume knickers are decadent and debaucherous. Best of all, the script is very funny.
But worst of all, the actors are NOT funny. Legit punch lines are killed in delivery. The performances lack pop. Even the drag queen doesn't sell it!
Jessica Jouclard alone stands out as Cookie. Among this ensemble of "actors who can sing," Jouclard actually has a voice. Her songs are full of smoke and meat, and in both her singing and her scenes she has presence and personality.
And it is personality that is most missing from this cast of underdeveloped characters. Of course, it doesn't help that there are too many people on the stage, most of them having nothing to do. Paging a director anyone? The safe choreography is delivered without precision or punch. Most of the vocals are weak, and in general the words are lost in the cavernous space of the Ellen Stewart Theatre.
In short, the production sells us the idea that we are watching a magical world, but in actuality it is nothing of the sort. The conceit that we're at a show gone awry isn't realized in the set, the use of the space, or the performances.
The cast and production simply don't live up to the material. The Dream of the Marionettes holds together by virtue of its humor and the innate flare of the music. This performance of the work only hinders it, and all is summed up perfectly by the sloppy, lackluster kick line that serves as the finale.
(The Dream of the Marionettes / Le Rêve des Marionettes plays at The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa, 66-68 East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, through August 29th. Remaining performances are Saturday 8/28 at 5pm and Sunday 8/29 at 2:30pm. For more information visit www.dreamofthemarionettes.com. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue . There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)