The Poet, the Puppet & the Prisoner | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Poet, the Puppet & the Prisoner



The Poet, the Puppet & the Prisoner, Pegasus Players. Despite his consistent inability to imbue his puppets with anything resembling life, Blair Thomas has been dubbed one of the city's premier puppeteers. In his new 90-minute muddle, based on a quartet of Federico Garcia Lorca stories, one scene features three marionettes that he artlessly bangs around a makeshift puppetry stage. They do almost nothing but bob their heads and raise their hands jerkily while talking--when Thomas has to make them walk even a few steps, he's at a loss. This is the best the city has to offer?

Thomas fares no better with the stick and hand puppets he tries to manipulate during this embarrassingly amateurish production. To make matters worse, he insists on doing everything himself, slowing the pace to a crawl while proving he can't tell stories, recite poetry, create voices, or play musical instruments. It seems director Curt Columbus could do nothing with this disaster. The show's only successful element is the magical rotating set, built from melancholy-looking turn-of-the-century garbage, a collaboration among Thomas and four other designers.

Saddest of all, Thomas's alternately awkward and overwrought delivery strips Lorca's beguiling texts of all their lyricism--and most of their sense.

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