REVIEW: ‘Wood Boy Dog Fish,’ A Contemporary Interpretation Of The 19th Century Fable

Set in the coastal village of Shoreside, a dejected woodcarver is crippled by life, a precocious puppet is eager to commence his, while the rest of the town is consumed with the monstrous Dog Fish Adventure Ride.

This quirky story is brought to life in WOOD BOY DOG FISH, a thrilling spectacle of sight and sound by playwright Chelsea Sutton and Rogue Artists Ensemble.

Wood Boy Dog Fish premiered back in 2015, however, this retelling promises to be “more dangerous and immersive” – an accurate statement for those having seen the previous production at the Bootleg Theater.

Based on Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, director Sean T. Cawelti has removed most of the “fairytale” without compromising the whimsy in this reimagining. This is due in large part to his aesthetically striking puppets and Chelsea Sutton’s contemporary interpretation of the 19th century fable. Here, Wood Boy still learns an important moral lesson (like most old-timey parables), but at a much higher cost.

Still, the darker spin doesn’t dampen the overall production. There were many comedic elements courtesy of troupe members Amir Levi (Fox) and Tyler Bremer (Cat). The dynamic duo delivers plenty of camp in each scene encapsulating their bumbling alter-egos perfectly.

Wood-Boy-Dog-Fish_1

Rudy Martinez (Wood Boy) and Ben Messmer (Geppetto) in Wood Boy Dog Fish

Rudy Martinez, who voices Wood Boy and manipulates him alongside Mark Royston and Sarah Kay Peters work together to animate the incredibly expressive puppet. By the end of act two, you grow attached to the lifelike marionette forgetting he’s still an inanimate object.

Though not a musical, we do hear a handful of original songs by composer Adrien Prévost. The most memorable, a ballad called “Ignite” sung by Tane Kawasaki (Blue), the empathetic apparition with a big heart AND voice.

The video projections by Dallas Nichols was a constant reminder of our salt water location, while scenic designers Francois Pierre Couture and Matt G. Hill chose metal and mostly subdued colors in their sets to mirror the story.

Besides the pre-show carnival in the lobby, part of the immersive experience includes a race (with 3D enhancements) to defeat the Dog Fish. Disclaimer: you may get wet, but whaddya expect? This is Shoreside!

Rogue Artists Ensemble’s Wood Boy Dog Fish is now playing at the Garry Marshall Theatre through June 24, 2018. Tickets are available by calling the box office at (818) 955-8101 or Order Online

Photos courtesy of Chelsea Sutton

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