There's something eerie about puppets, however cuddly: rationally we know Kermit and Kukla are just souped-up dolls animated by hand, but they seem so alive it's hard to get past the illusion. And when the puppets are life-size and made to look as real as possible--as they are in the Belgian Compagnie Nicole Mossoux & Patrick Bonte's moody Twin Houses--they're downright threatening. Which is the point of this troubling solo piece, directed by Bonte, in which Mossoux--who both plays a character and works the mannequinlike puppets--encounters various malevolent entities: knife-wielding women, aggressively affectionate lovers. It's fascinating to watch these creatures emerge, like Siamese twins, out of Mossoux's clothing and then take on--with a tilt of the head, a gesture of an arm, the kick of a leg--a life of their own. It's also a testament to Mossoux's gifts as a performer--in press materials she's identified as a dancer, and certainly she has a dancer's grace and control--that even as she brings the puppets to life she maintains her own somber, anhedonic persona. All without speaking a single word. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 722-5463 or 902-1500. September 24 and 25: Tuesday-Wednesday, 7:30 PM. $19-$28.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Mikha Wajnrych.