Left - Tim Watts. Photo - David Hall. Cover image - Michelle Robin Anderson
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer is a simple story of finding lost-love and saving the world, told through mixed media with animation, puppetry and live acting, which packs an emotional punch.
The polar-ice caps have melted, the world has flooded, and people live in houses built on top of the highest of high-rise apartments. In one of these houses lives Alvin Sputnik, happy until his wife becomes sick and dies, her soul escaping into the earth-covering oceans. Alvin cannot go and find her soul with just his human lungs, so he signs up as a deep sea explorer: when Alvin goes to find her soul, he takes on the task of saving the world while he does it.
While a bleak premise, performer, director and devisor Tim Watts beautifully mixes moments of bleakness with moments of laughter and moments of wonder as Alvin travels to bring back his love. Ultimately, the story told is a sad one, but it is filled with hope and joy.
With some acting by Watts, the show is primarily performed by transitioning from simple stick-figure animation to puppetry, and this is done to great effect as the animated character swims off the circular projection screen and is replaced by a puppet. The primary puppet for Alvin is incredibly simple: a white glove with four fingers for the body of the diving suit with a foam ball and a light for the head, and yet Watts manages to convey incredible amounts of emotion into Alvin.
The show is performed along with an eclectic soundtrack that ranges from beautifully composed songs sung by Watts on ukulele, to popular songs, such as Mika’s Happy Ending – the seamless transitions from animation to puppetry are reflected in the transitions from live to recorded music. The show is simply yet effectively lit, with the primary focus on the screen for animation, which is itself sometimes incorporated with live-acting and puppetry; lighting allowing action to be seen through the animation.
While transitions from animation to live-action to puppetry create a visually interesting and exciting production, they never detract, and indeed only add to the heart of this production, and this story of love and adventure comes with a huge heart. More heart than you would perhaps feel possible to fit into a 45-minute production. The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer is a lovely play that should be seen by an audience of all ages.
Weeping Spoon Productions present
THE ADVENTURES OF ALVIN SPUTNIK: DEEP SEA EXPLORER
Venue: Holden Street Theatres – The Arch
Dates: 18 Feb - 14 Mar, 2010
Tickets: from $18.50