Our Theatre are a company from Tbilisi, Georgia and they look to create theatre for all. Their chosen medium is puppetry and physical theatre. Paradiso is their latest production and it takes place in a retirement home, where a group of old men are nearing the end of their life.
The story follows the old men and a nurse. The puppetry format uses body suits where the characters are strapped to the front of the puppeteers. One hand is inside the puppet, operating the head. The other hand is through the sleeve of the puppet, where the puppeteers hand is the hand of the character itself. It is a nice technique and one which shows how inventive Our Theatre can be. The only character onstage that is not a puppet is the nurse. She wears a body suit with padding on the breasts and buttocks.
The old men gawk and leer the nurse. Her exaggerated buttocks are something to be coveted and this creates a seedy and disgusting tone, that unfortunately, is returned to again during the show. At one point we see one of the old puppets leaving a toilet with a pornographic magazine. He then recommends that the other men try Viagra to obtain an erection. This scene isn’t offensive, nor is it challenging or provocative. It just isn’t funny and says absolutely nothing about the characters. The joke doesn’t work well and seems pointless and obnoxious, especially since the only woman on the stage has already been seen as object of desire. What is most disappointing though is that there are occasional moments of magic in Paradiso that are not taken advantage of. At one point we see a projected video of people in shadow dancing with one another. It is haunting and beautiful, but seems out of place when considering the tone of the remainder of the performance.
Paradiso continues to plod along until we reach the finale, where the performance meets an obvious and inevitable conclusion. The characters are old and it doesn’t take much imagination to think of what their fate turns out to be.