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Life Still

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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This is the kind of off-beat show that people usually love or hate, but I found myself somewhere in the middle.

Silent, dungaree-clad puppeteers Oliver Smart and Matt Short begin with a slow but intriguing sequence in which they manipulate small pieces of metal on a table (which serves as the stage for the majority of the action). As bolts and wheels clang on the surface, the sound is amplified as part of an eerie soundscape that creates an altogether apocalyptic mood.

Set in the wake of an “unknown catastrophic event”, what unfolds is a series of character studies and vignettes as golf bags morph into people, feather pillows make for highly convincing chickens and a stack of cogs becomes the New York skyline. A dog-like creature constructed of what appear to be piano parts heralds danger, as the aforementioned catastrophic event - which has shades of 9/11 - unfolds before our eyes.

Got that? No, me neither really, but there's much to enjoy here (an inventive quasi-birth scene is one of many stand-out moments) and Smart and Short have a wonderful symbiosis. With a little more character development and narrative drive - which may come in time, I attended the first preview - this could be something special. Those in search of something genuinely original could do a lot worse.


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