Boy meets girl. Girl leaves boy. Boy meets puppet.
What do you do if you’re an emerging production company (Mixtape Theatre Collective) and want to put on a show and have no budget?
You create an imaginative quirky show called Escape from the Breakup Forest, with minimal cast about something that everyone can relate to. Adding to the productions values are cardboard cut-out sets and props, and hand-drawn projected screens for scene chapter cards and other interesting tid-bits.
Sounds ‘sketchy’ but that’s a good thing! This low-brow styling really works for the piece; adding a rough, playful charm to a story about love and building the metaphorical bridge to get over it when it ends.
The three actors from Mixtape Theatre Collective kept the high-energy piece afloat, playing various characters amongst sharing the role of the narrator.
Our hero was Josh (played by writer/actor Steve Pirie), whose wonderful (and depressing) journey all started with the flick of a rubber-band at high-school. When the love of his life simply falls out of love with him (at the most inappropriate time), he is banished to the breakup forest with only a puppet as his spirit guide to find his way through, piece his life back together and lighten his ‘baggage’ so that he can move on with his life.
Having the female member of the cast, Ell Sachs, play the potty-mouth school bully was a high-light. I don’t know why, but chicks in pants roles are even funnier than guys in drag. Sachs’s acting abilities were showcased in the various personas she took on including the love of Josh’s life, the unrequited co-worker, and the leader in Valley of the Sluts, of which this chapter of the play was particularly funny, including choreographed chases through the forest.
Rounding out the cast was Dan Stewart who played Curly the puppet as well as Josh’s high-school friend, and a few minor characters. Stewart’s Curly was funny and obnoxiously up-beat, and played the cutest quivering scaredy-cat puppet I’ve seen.
Escape from the Breakup Forest played a short run at the Judith Wright Centre with only three performances. Next time around, don’t miss this charming and quirky play.