The Timely Death of Victor Blott

“Isn’t it better to die with magic than to live with none?”  

 Presented by Metro Arts & Dead Puppet SocietySue Benner Theatre, Edward St, Brisbane Wednesday, 5 May, 2010 “Isn’t it better to die with magic than to live with none?” This distinctive production asks the kind of question you would only find in make-believe, but the extraordinary puppet-character of Victor Blott conveys a surprising sense of reality.  Described as gothic fairytale for grown-ups, the story set in Victorian times surrounds a little boy born without a heartbeat, Victor Blott. When all around him thought he was dead on arrival, his mother clutched him to her chest and 10 years on he amazingly still lives. His world is a gloomy underground room where he spends most of his time in the company of his loving mother with a breaking heart. Meanwhile, upstairs lives his cold-hearted father, who considers himself an insect expert. The family’s struggle to make ends meet and the father’s curiosity regarding his son’s life motivates him to strike a deal with the local doctor, allowing him to examine Victor. Against Victor’s will and his mother’s wishes, he is probed and prodded by the doctor to lengths that leave the audience gasping.    The magical and disturbing production opened with an impressive shadow performance of Victor’s birth. It was an effective and attention-grabbing technique – a great beginning to the unusual fairy-tale. Skilful and striking lighting design by Whitney Eglington featured prominently throughout the show and was most noteworthy in this scene. Sound design by Guy Gimpel and Tony Brumpton also created the avant-garde feel. A sheet hanging front of stage then came down and the set was revealed. Bold and eye-catching illustrations projected on a screen combined with an emotive narrative set the atmosphere and tone of the play. Then Victor emerged and instantly he connected with the audience. The puppet’s design, which intentionally does not reflect the symmetry of a human, perfectly suited his nature.     David Morton’s successfully produced his vision to combine live performers with puppetry and evoke empathy from the audience. Puppeteers Courtney Stewart, Bianca McIntyre and Anna Straker were the soul of Victor and did a fantastic job of bringing him to life. Elizabeth Millington displayed Victor’s mother’s compassion sincerely however her frustration with her husband was weaker than I would liked. Kieran Law’s performance was also satisfactory however his youthful mannerisms unfortunately diluted the intensity of his role. The dialogue between mother and father was underdeveloped and if enhanced could have provided more of an opportunity for Millington and Law to grow. Chris Veronon was unnerving as the evil and sadistic doctor and his wicked performance was brilliant.  Although the show’s running time is only 70 minutes I was wriggling in my seat a little waiting for the climax because in reality not much actually happens in the lead-up. But it’s the creative way the story is delivered and the emotion it triggers that makes it so good.  It’s great to see this experimental piece come off so well. Worth a look. The Timely Death of Victor Blott is showing until the 22 May, 2010

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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