Wednesday, August 24, 2011

THEATER: Paper Cut

At one point, however long ago, you were a kid, and when you were, you probably spent some time playing with toys, making up intricate stories with which the various characters might interact. (If you were never a child, pick up Toy Story and see what you missed out on.) That's very much the sort of theater that Yael Rasooly's interested in making, a semi-solipsistic art that she calls "paper and object theater," a large part of which involves her manipulation of photographs, cut-out paper figures, pop-up books, and various other "flat" puppetry, all while providing the sort of exaggerated voice-over that was all the rage in black-and-white "classic" dramas. The paper-thin plot's beside the point -- Ms. Dolores is a stressed-out, solitary secretary who pines for her boss, even as he obliviously asks her to transcribe love letters to other women -- but it justifies Rasooly's flights of fantasy: creative homages to both over-the-top romances and, as her paranoia invades, Hitchcock. (In terms of inventiveness, it's a bit like a one-woman version of The 39 Steps.) Boiled down to its most simple elements, Paper Cut is a bit one-dimensional, but when she folds together a series of fast-paced accents and title cards to simulate a whirlwind honeymoon, or when she gamely attempt to sing through a bundle of quick-cut love songs (needle skips and all), one can only marvel at her theatrical origami.

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