Trying to describe a Manual Cinema show to someone who has never experienced it is like trying to describe tiramisu to someone who has never eaten dessert. A Manual Cinema multidisciplinary masterpiece seamlessly interweaves original live scores, actors, handcrafted props and sets and a signature technique of sophisticated shadow puppetry that uses multiple overhead projectors to create absolute theatrical magic. Their CoVid immersed updating of the Dicken’s classic tale of the real meaning of the holidays is no exception: this is an exquisitely crafted work of not to be missed theater.
LaKecia Harris plays Aunt Trudy, lost in her moving boxes, ordering no contact Chinese, and trying to adhere to her now dead( from Covid 19) partner’s Christmas tradition of doing a puppet show of A Christmas Carol for the extended family. It has to be on Zoom, and Trudy is into her cups as she drags herself into Uncle Joe’s beloved show. As with any long term relationship and with any extended family there are wounds. And the pandemic layered those wounds upon wounds: everyone was a bit raw and fragile. And Aunt Trudy becomes her own version of a Scrooge as she unburdens herself and puts the puppets through their paces. But as Trudy sees herself in the story, and we, through the magic of shadow play, see her innermost thoughts, she resolves to change and find joy. She,and we, are transformed. Musicians Kyle Vegter, Teiana Davis and Lucy Little lay down a sound track of subconsciousness and give new meaning to the concept of holiday vibe.
This 70 minute revival production of the original from last season goes by too fast and you will want to see it again. Luckily the Writer’s Theatre space in suburban Glencoe is a gorgeous intimate venue that looked out over the sparkling snow at the opening. Get off your screens, throw the whole family in the SUV and become a devotee of Manual Cinema.
Manual Cinema’s Christmas Carol is playing Thursdays through Sundays until Christmas Eve at Writers Theatre at 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe. For tickets and information go to https://www.writerstheatre.org/manual-cinema-christmas-carol
Photo by Liz Lauren
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