Tighter grip on strings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 May, 1998, 12:00am

NO PUP HAVE PET, Sweetie Puppet Theatre, McAulay Studio, Arts Centre NO Pup Have Pet is a clever title in Chinese, but is more obscure in English. 'Puppet' in Chinese is made up of two characters: 'wood' and 'imitating object'. By breaking up the two words, the title suggests an alternative puppet theatre.

This 'adult puppet theatre' consisted of four highly original short puppet shows with a common theme - sex - and a common fault in being too self-indulgent.

The first of these, Pen Is Talking, was about a man looking for his lost penis. Whenever he was off stage, a human-sized, authentic-looking penis would appear. The giggle-inducing object was riveting with its minimalist dance movement.

The second, Three Heads In A Fridge, centred upon three decapitated heads in a fridge. A woman's head recounted how a man was raped by a woman and analysed the traumatic effects on him. The heads required more variation in facial expression, and the voice-over lacked dramatic intensity.

The third, Most Adore Barbie, was about a girl playing with her large Barbie doll. She combed Barbie's hair, dressed her up and played with her medical kit. Finally she discovered that she could, much to her delight, blow up Barbie's breasts. This sexual twist was delightfully cheeky but the build-up was far too long and grew unbearably tedious.

The last section, A Bag Legend, was visually the most effective, with a vivid contrast in dimension between a small studio theatre and a bag that almost forced the audience out of their seats. The bag, continually stretched by puppeteers hidden within it, engulfed the audience, creating a foetal universe.

No Pup was full of bold, original ideas that were often over-developed. Wong Kwok-chung, Goretti Cheung and Carmen Cheng's loose direction failed to turn these into something more controlled and punchy. With tighter direction this could develop into something special.