Men of Steel (FringeTIX)
Men of Steel @ Bosco Theatre
3:00pm, Sat 17 Mar 2007
For some reason, I’d interpreted the Men of Steel ad to mean that it was a puppet show with metal shadow-puppets; I’d completely missed the references to vegetables et al. So I was surprised to see the two Men – and one Woman – of Steel run amoc with the contents of a grocery basket; but the results are a true all-ages delight.
Presented atop a white bench and black backdrop, we open with a recreation of The Garden of Eden, with a cookie-cutter Adam and Eve clip-clopping across the benchtop to be confronted by a snake-guarded apple. After the brutal decapitation of the snake, there’s a clever birthing sequence where the apple is stamped by Eve… hard to explain, but the meme is there for me.
We then revisit the spectacle of Man landing on the Moon, the introduction of some dog-food alien thing, and… ummm… ooh shit, it’s getting a little tricky now. Regardless of the obtuse nature of the plot, the Men are firing our imaginations with a variety of characters and nonsense-speak and shopping.
Act Two is a visit to the cinema which devolves into a frank and earnest analysis of the inhuman brutality of war… or not. But there is the cooking of some popcorn which is used as ammunition by an invisible enemy in a Gallipoli-esque analysis of the inhuman brutality of war accompanied by the theme from Chariots of Fire. Once shot, the cookie-cutter man bleeds out via squirts from a sauce bottle – a stark and inventive bit of puppetry.
The final act shows us a big broccoli forest, a GIANT cookie-cutter character and a big mess as vegetables and condiments galore splatter the surrounds. The use of different materials for characters and scenery lends a certain visual appeal; but Men of Steel also assaults the sense of smell, too – the pungent dog-food soon being negated by burnt popcorn.
Between each of the three acts, the Men perform a quick clean of the benchtops – flicking excess foodstuffs onto the floor and following up with a quick squeegee, which often gets flicked in the direction of the audience. Be warned – the front row may get splashed with sauce, limp vegetables, or dog food.
On a mild Saturday arvo, the Bosco still managed to get pretty hot, humid, and stuffy – but the full house certainly didn’t mind. Everyone was laughing – adults, children, and childish adults(ie, me). Fantastic messy stuff.