Note: This review is from the 2017 Fringe

Performed with overhead projectors, shadow puppets, actors in silhouette, and live music, Lula Del Ray, from Chicago based Manual Cinema, is a magical reinvention of the classic coming-of-age story.

Told with almost no dialogue, Lula Del Ray is the story of a lonely adolescent girl, living with her mother in a quaint caravan on the outskirts of a vast satellite array in the middle of the desert. A mutual obsession with things in space bonds them but Lula has girlish dreams of a wider world and looks to rebel. After a chance encounter over the radio, Lula becomes obsessed with a soulful country music duo, the Baden Brothers. She runs away from home on a journey of discovery but also into a world of danger, deception and disappointment.

The show works on two levels: telling the story of Lula through amazing shadow puppetry but also inviting the audience to take their own voyage of discovery as they marvel at how the skill of the five puppeteers, visible before us, effortlessly weave the tale together, with just three old school overhead projectors and various acetates, mime and props.

Four musicians, also on stage, provide the live soundtrack and original score with the use of cello, guitar, vocals and sound effects. They’re not a distraction and their performance only helps marry and enhance the suspense of the tale unfolding on the big screen and the interaction occurring between the puppeteers, who are just so skillful.

At 65 minutes, there are times when the piece drags, yet as a whole, leaves you spellbound, much like Lula.

Utterly mesmerising, charming and at the same time ingenious, Lula Del Ray is a dreamy way to spend an hour or so on the Fringe.