One Eye Gone ***

Venue 13, 8 – 22 August 2009

Reviewed for The List, issue 637

Unless you’re already familiar with Godzilla and the daikaiju genre, it might be hard to follow this reimagining of the 1954 film – though its strength is in Katie Shook’s puppetry, not Erik Ehn’s storytelling. There’s imaginative use of concealed lights to create cityscapes, bioluminescent jellyfish and the devastating Oxygen Destroyer device; and Sam Breen’s Godzilla costume has a homemade look that may have resulted from budgetary constraints, but nevertheless recalls the original’s low-tech aesthetic.

The narrative style is abstract, with downstage narrators providing dialogue, projected stills from the film representing characters and four puppeteers, plus Breen, recreating the large-scale city-stomping action. The play only lasts half its advertised length, which probably explains (though doesn’t excuse) the dearth of exposition in Ehn’s script; and his repetition of the Engrish-sounding phrase ‘You are one eye gone’ is baffling rather than evocative.

Only the skeleton of a plot (monster terrorises city, is obliterated with WMD) is discernible; and some brutish part of me, not satisfied with mere artistic representations of destruction, was disappointed Breen didn’t get to actually stomp any tiny buildings.

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