Breathtaking play with doomsday

Technically intricate and playful puppet theatre. Teater Fusentast delivers, albeit at a breakneck pace.

«The Grand Finale - how to survive doomsday»
by Teater Fusentast
at Teaterhuset Avant Garden.
World premiere oct. 21.
Performances until oct. 28.
With: Coby Omvlee, Jaap den Hertog
Musician: Tor Einar Bekken
Illustrations, puppet design: Janne Magnussen
Stage director: Elin Hassel Iversen

The idea is sheer lunacy: A show that combines comic strips with laterna magica, movie cameras and finger size puppets, all in one performance?
Teater Fusentast has for 20 years given us puppet shows that move in their own small-sized, subtle, humorous and serious universe.
This time, they surpass themselves, and the result is hilarious and hectic.

The story they have taken from the Dutch author Belcampo. It is about a small town's fate on the very last day. Who will move on to heaven and who will go down under? The town of Fagersund is defined by ample doses of hypocrisy and peculiar personalities.

It is physically present on stage as a scale model, full of cardboard houses and finger-size puppets. The puppets are filmed by use of a tiny moveable camera, which enables us to move in and out of small everyday situations. These are projected onto a screen at the back of the stage, and combined with comic-strip-like pictures projected by old and new projectors.

The small model town reveals a wealth of details, cleverly animated and staged by Coby Omvlee and Jaap den Hertog. Tor Einar Bekken is seated by their side, setting music to this saga with harmonium and synthesizer.

And here we arrive at the only problem with the performance: From time to time, this hectic manipulating of lamps, pictures, slides and figurines creates a distance to what is to be related – the caricatured town and the story of photographer Belcampo on the final day.
The fact that the manipulation is this transparent breaks the illusion and distracts.
Nevertheless, the humour of the lush details draws us back in: the town has tiny parodies around every corner. Here we find God, the gossip press, adultery and irresponsible spending. When all the techniques work well together, this is an excellent performance: Janne Magnussen's illustrations, with strong references to both the Joker and Jack Skellington, are visually striking.

The effort the two operators put into the play is neck breaking. And Dr. Bekken's sound effects create a humorous soundtrack.
What happens to photographer Belcampo, his lover Bella, the fat butcher or the blond airplane captain, we will not disclose here.
He who lives will see. In any case, I hope this is not the definite finale for Fusentast - we wish to see them on stage for twenty more years.