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(photo credit: Courtesy)
If kindergarten was the last time you went to a puppet show, it's high time you went to the 15th annual International Festival of Puppet Theater in Jerusalem this week.
The festival, which started Sunday and ends Friday, features 26 puppet shows for everyone 18 months and older, including eight shows tailored specifically for adults. Shows are being held at Jerusalem's Khan and Train Theaters, as well as at music club The Lab.
So what is a puppet show for adults? The Jerusalem Post went to find out and discovered that "adult puppetry" is not necessarily some sort of Pinocchio porn. The Lighthouse, one of the festival's eight adult shows, proved to be a tender and suspenseful story about an old woman waiting on a tiny island for a ship captain named Edward to return to her. Over the course of the show, the audience observes the woman's neurotic and humorous nightly routine at her lighthouse as she searches for and thinks about her long-lost partner.
The wonderful puppets in The Lighthouse do not have strings, are about a foot or two tall and were physically manipulated by a man and a woman, both of whom were young, talented, attractive and themselves played an an important role in the show. The interactions between the puppeteers and the puppets made for a novel dynamic not found anywhere else in the performing arts. Sometimes acting like servants, the puppeteers would move objects off shelves at the request of a puppet, while at other times they were more like gods, controlling the puppets and manipulating their environment and actions.
Although children would also enjoy the exaggerated qualities of The Lighthouse puppets, in particular their big noses and strange, awkward movements, the show's focus on the psychology and pathology of adult relationships makes it most appropriate for people who have had them. Though there is a touch of sex and even some nice dancing, the show is, all in all, a somber, beautiful reminder of how an under-used medium like puppetry can be so special, powerful and, most of all, fresh.
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