Simple, entertaining and with something for everyone
‘Zoozoo’, presented by the innovative and diverse Imago Theatre, mesmerised and amused the very young in attendance. Throughout the entire performance there were squeals of delight and laughter from the children who appreciated the simplistic humour, most of which was geared specifically toward them.
I took my 11-year-old godson and was disappointed to find out that he has outgrown the level of humour on display.
Those of us who were older and not able to derive our enjoyment from the joy of our own children could certainly appreciate how well conceived the performance was and the completeness of the illusions; how fluent the performers were in the language of movement.
The first scene opened with the sound of crickets. The stage was in darkness and then there were lights that brought to mind fireflies flying. The circular lights were then arranged so that they looked like the blinking eyes of night creatures. Later a huge argyle glow-in-the-dark snake slithered across the stage. The most impressive portion of this segment came when the performers, invisible to the audience, created the illusion of a flock of white birds.
‘Hippos’ was the next scene which featured a hippopotamus couple in bed fighting over the sheets. Their every move was punctuated by goofy sound effects to the delight of the children who never tired of the repetition. The choreography of the piece was remarkable as the performers rolled, jumped and slid over each other and pushed their partners off the bed.
The expert “movementors” recreated the movement of snakes, frogs, rabbits, and polar bears. They took their time to create the characteristics of the different animals and while the children were completely riveted, no doubt because of people-sized frogs and rabbits on the stage in front of them, things sometimes felt a bit slow moving to me and my godson.
I really enjoyed the scene with the family of polar bears who seemed to be enormous, especially the mother and father. It was another very effective illusion and when they walked into the audience I felt myself holding my breath a bit. They never stopped acting like polar bears, silent and graceful, extending the fantasy into the midst of the audience.
The scene with the white rabbits, dressed in coveralls, began humorously as the two-legged creatures frolicked, danced and jumped about the stage. Lights simulating car lights and the sound of a horn saw the animals entranced by the illumination. In the end they began to bob and weave in eerie nightmarish slow-motion. I was briefly reminded of the move Night of the Lepus. The big-eyed human/rabbit beings staring straight into the theatre as the lights dimmed to black is an image that lingered with me. Giant rabbits in the dark are scary.
‘Larvabatic’ followed the rabbits and was just as eerie. It featured a single character that resembled an insect larva or grub. The performer beneath the strange looking costume created the illusion that the creature was performing acrobatic tricks standing on its front legs. Part of the process of observing the scene was trying to figure out exactly what was going on; how the performer’s body was situated in relation to the body of the creature he was recreating. The applause for this piece was thunderous and often.
All of the scenes did not involve animal characters. There was also a scene with a couple of accordions, in Windbags that slid around the stage like worms, music accompanying each contraction and expansion. They interacted with each other and the audience, sometimes standing straight up, even appearing to giggle. It was a fascinating effect seeing these objects imbued with such personality.
This scene was the first to feature one of the performers, albeit briefly, in humanoid form, dressed in a red velveteen body suit. The head was also covered with a hooded faceless mask.
Another audience favourite were the penguins playing musical chairs. The costumes looked less animal and more like people dressed up to look like penguins but they were hilarious. Even I got into this scene. Penguins never fail to entertain.
Overall it was a very successful Bermuda Festival evening at the City Hall Theatre and the target audience was enthralled. The rest of us got to experience an impressive achievement of elaborate costume, brilliant lighting, spectacle, discipline and talent.