Frankenocchio

Puppet-maker Brian Kooser’s morbid fable returns for a third run. When God cuts the strings of angelic marionette Frank, the poor little fellow falls to earth (with much poignant flapping), and his head rolls off. Adopted by a grim circus, Frank endures multiple indignities as old circus geeks Benevecchio and Tragico attach a series of surrogate bodies beneath him, most of them from other species. Upping the eeriness, hooded, dark-clad puppeteers manipulate the puppets and produce their accented voices. Mute Frank’s gentle desire to reunite head with body (and reattain God’s love) plucks the heartstrings without artificial sweeteners. Live music by God’s Favorite Beefcake (led by Shmootzi the Clod, formerly of Circus Contraption) hovers between klezmer and New Orleans funeral dirge. A futility-born sadness pervades the 95-minute piece, but some moments (such as when Tragico’s phallic nose lodges in an elephant’s rectum) are bitterly funny. Directed by Rob Witmer, script by Stephanie Timm. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Aug. 12. Continues through Sept. 4, 2010

 
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