photo: Nordland Visual Theatre
It’s only January, but I can be sure that Wakka Wakka's very special, brilliantly realized Fabrik will be on my Best list at the end of the year. As I stumbled out of Urban Stages, choked with emotion and high on the cathartic power of theatre of quality, I wondered how and why this intimate three-actor puppet show had so deeply moved me. The story, of a neighborly Jewish businessman in Norway who is arrested and persecuted by the Nazis, is not essentially new, but the way it is told - in the manner of a musical folk tale, with the devices of childrens’ theatre -is freshly disarming, and the cumulative power of its many small theatrical wonders makes it newly devastating. The seventy minute show, never less than inventive and captivating, tells the story not only with a variety of highly expressive puppets but also on chilling occasion with the actors in masks, a purposeful mix that makes for strong dramatic imagery. Perhaps the power of Fabrik is that it tells a story of us at our brutal worst, with a creativity that us at our joyful, humanity-affirming best. Yes, that is its magic.