10

SAN FRANCISCO FRINGE FESTIVAL 2000

SAN FRANCISCO FRINGE FESTIVAL 2000

Kevin Augustine's "10" was generating significant buzz and turned out to be the most exciting of the shows I saw; "10" is an hour of psychologically eerie puppetry and monologue with an edgily sweet twist. Written and staged by Augustine, who also designed the puppets - compelling, life-size foam-rubber figures with the craggy features of crude stone carvings, has two adept puppeteers bring the creations to life with a sorrowful gentleness in unsettling contrast to his tense, febrile John Malkovich-like energy. Working barefoot (his feet manipulate the puppets as well) he creates a compelling drama as moving as it is creepy. Roll a show like "10" and you've come up a winner.


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Kevin Augustine's stunning, mysterious play has the strange beauty of a David Lynch movie and its own skewed, desperate vision. Augustine wrote, directed, built the puppets, and performs this enigmatic version of the Frankenstein story, assisted onstage by two gifted puppeteers, Jane Catherine Shaw and Carol Binion. Andrew (Augustine) awaits his fiancée on his wedding day; she fails to appear. Andy subsumes his pain in a plan to create a man who can dance to Tchaikovsky. He enters a strange contest for "Creators," others who are attempting the same thing as him, some who've achieved acclaim for their results and who arouse his envy. Andy's creature, the puppet Daniel, begins to take form -- his haggard, misshapen face, his scarred, patchwork body -- but his legs cause Daniel too much pain to dance as his progenitor has planned, and Andy despairs. As he lies on the floor in pain, certain he's failed, Daniel begins to dance, and the moment is overwhelming. 10 is a great and terrible fable about art and love.


Every piece, with the exception of one, fell short of Puppet Parlor standards. Only Kevin Augustine's work-in-progress, "Ten," measured up. Augustine was one of the featured performers in last year's Fringe Festival where his "Big Top Machine" showed off his considerable acting and puppeteering talents. "Ten" featured Augustine, looking a lot like John Malkovich, being interrogated by invisible authorities.
Apparently there had been an attempt on his life by a puppet character he had created. Kevin used the Frankenstein myth to explore the ramifications of playing god, from the creator's point of view. The piece was polished and beautifully executed and left the audience wanting more