Copy Editor/Staff Writer
The Toronto premiere of Against Gravity, presented by Mind of a Snail Puppet Company, begins in the dark, with no sound or movement. The creators of the show, Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel, present a shadow puppet show unlike any other – the pair performs in front of the audience, rather than behind a curtain.
The shadow puppet show attempts to tell the story of a man who rebels against gravity, though this attempt proves to be unsuccessful. This story is not cohesive and there are many questions left unanswered. There are protestors who repeat the line: “gravity oppresses us all”. Also, there are subplots within the play that reiterate the anti-gravity theme. At one point, a snail is shown “turning off” gravity with the switch of a button, but the reasoning behind this act is lost on me.
Fortunately, the lack of plot is masked by the use of music, visuals, and audience participation – aspects that set it apart from traditional puppet shows. Chloe provided the background music for the show – her musical talents included beat-boxing and playing acoustic guitar – while Jessica projected the colourful imagery and puppets. These interdisciplinary additions served to enhance the theatricality of the show and made it enjoyable to watch.
Chloe and Jessica asked the audience if they would help create sound effects for certain images on the screen. Although this, at times, felt unnecessary and overdone, it helped keep the audience interested and allowed Jessica and Chloe the ability to connect with their spectators.
Against Gravity defies gravity with its unique use of shadow puppets and visual imagery to create a sensory experience like no other.
Against Gravity is a part of the Summer Works Festival in Toronto and is running at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace until August 16. For ticket information please visit http://summerworks.ca/2014/portfolio/gravity/