Nelson Arts Festival
REVIEW: The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer Suter Theatre, October 24, 6pm. Reviewed by Margot Hannigan.
This was a magical show that had universal appeal.
A darkened Suter stage awaited us with a white circular screen hanging centrally.
Tim Watts, creator and performer, came into view, partially lit by a head torch. Without words, the show began with humorously sketched animated images on the screen, telling us to turn off cellphones and prohibiting cameras.
Then Earth's globe was sketched with a sub-title "not to scale", and Alvin Sputnik introduced his woeful tale of the planet being submerged, millions dying and the possible end of the human race. A tale both topical and possible as the rising tides swamped Whakatu car park this week.
We witness the poignant death of Sputnik's wife as he sings to her, semi-visible behind the screen, playing a heart-felt ostinato on the ukulele.
We see images of skyscrapers atop mountains and corpses. Then Alvin makes a heroic attempt to save humanity by journeying to the depths of the ocean, confronting ice-caps and layers of plastic.
His animated image leaves the screen and becomes a tiny puppet, intriguingly created by Watts' four fingers.
This tiny figure can dance and swim, moving on and off screen with artistic ease. He finds a coloured light in the lonely depths and falls in love with "her". Her name is Orina. She leads him to another world in a deep chasm where there is hope of continuing life.
A whale falls in love with Sputnik and love creates the hope of survival, as soap bubbles of air flow into the audience.
I loved the tenderness of the gentle singing or recorded music throughout.
This one-man micro-puppet show has deservedly won awards around the world.
Afterwards, the children in the audience paid excited tributes in a book in the theatre foyer, happily inspired by Watts' positive and endearing originality.
Watts will give two more performances in Nelson tonight before taking off for Malta.
Grab this opportunity to enjoy 45 minutes of unique theatre.