Manual Cinema present Ada/Ava a live cinematic experience with more genius ideas than seems humanly possible. The set up for the show is original and inventive. 4 overhead projectors are on the stage. On these projectors 4 puppeteer manipulate tiny shadow puppets and the images are projected on a large screen to the back of the stage. Meanwhile an actor interacts with these projections and musicians create a live soundtrack to the performance. The result is a highly original experience that feels like a live animation infused with mystery and magic.
The story takes place in a lighthouse where an old woman mourns the death of her twin sister. Ada/Ava is a heartfelt fantasy story, that makes use of the creative nature of the performance. We see the dreams, fantasies and imagination of the protagonist and are taken inside the depths of her melancholy and memories. At times the invention of the performance can distract from the story. There is a lot going on onstage. The puppeteers are constantly changing the backgrounds and setting up the next scene. This can draw the eye away from the projection, as the audience tries to guess how the performance is staged and what will happen next.
Visually Ada/Ava is magical. A obvious influence is the German shadow puppet animator Lotte Reiniger. What differs with Manual Cinema is that they create the story in front of your eyes. This makes the story feel tangible and tactile. Even though we are watching puppets, they feel very real and as if you could reach out and touch them.
Manual Cinema have travelled from Chicago to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. The techniques and style of their work would lend it self to further stories using the same methods. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a long and successful relationship with the Edinburgh Fringe and hopefully Manual Cinema will return with more magic and more cinematic puppet theatre.