<em>Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities</em>

Review: Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities | Amphibian Stage Productions

Myths Made of Wood

Concrete Temple Theatre's Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities is an affecting treat at Amphibian Stage Productions. 

published Saturday, March 19, 2016

Photo: Stefan Hagen
Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities


Fort Worth — No strings on this fun and heart-tugging little show by NYC’s Concrete Temple Theatre. Presented as a lagniappe, a “season extra” from Amphibian Stage Productions (and for this weekend only), Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities is pleasingly hands-on and homemade theater, with puppets manipulated by rods and toggles and the sheer imagination of master puppeteer Carlo Adinolfi. He’s the show’s puppet and set designer, and the principal actor/puppeteer. Adinolfi, in fact, plays everyone, from the woodcarver Geppetto to some famous couples from the old Greek stories: Perseus and Andromeda, Helen and Menelaus, Orpheus and Eurydice.

Directed by Renee Philippi, who wrote the script in a collaborative effort with Adinolfi (they are co-artistic directors of the company), Geppetto is low-key and simple—trading in mythic themes on an intimate scale. This production is likely to remind theater locals of some of Lake Simons’ work with Hip Pocket Theatre: little puppets, big ideas. And there’s music, too: cellist McCaryn Bougeois is onstage throughout, playing composer Lewis Flinn’s lovely accompaniment.

Photo: Stefan Hagen
Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities

Geppetto is a story of grief, loss, and soldiering on…with some comedy along the way. In this version, the old gent is a puppet maker but also a showman, one half of “Geppetto and Donna’s Mythic Puppet Company.” But now, Geppetto is suddenly alone. His “Donna” (it translates as “lady” in Italian) has left him, and despite his sadness, their show is headlining at a big festival a few days away—and Geppetto wants the show to go on.

But can he do it all by himself? Geppetto’s “stars” are two wooden puppets, stalwart Omino (“little man”) who exclusively plays heroes, and hapless Jenny, who (see how things work out?) always needs a heroic rescue. Geppetto keeps up a desperate, busy line of Italian-English patter, and creates as he goes: tying ocean waves to his belt, planting seagulls in his hat—anything to keep the story in motion. If one plot leaves him stranded, he picks up another, changing to a different mythic story line. Geppetto’s rough-planked workbench is the stage, turning into a seascape or a vision of hell as the storytelling requires.

The Italian-born Adinolfi’s background as a dancer comes into play as he tangoes his puppet heroine across the stage in one of the show’s best moments. His hero’s and heroine’s hearts, like his own, are often broken—but they dance on. Not everything works; a few stretches of the short, hour-long show drag on a bit. But Geppetto’s improvisations with the puppets—adding new limbs, staging a convenient fainting spell, warbling made-up love songs—are consistently imaginative and amusing.

One myth in particular seems to connect deeply with Geppetto’s sadness: the story of Orpheus trying to bring his love Eurydice back from death and the underworld. It’s a metaphor for Geppetto’s own desire for reunion, clearly. In a poignant, life’s-not-for-sissies moment, he declares that despite the horrors of the underworld, our own “upper world” is only “for those who are brave.”

Adinolfi’s acting has a tentative, in-the-moment feel, as do his words. The script is repetitive and circular but deliberately so, with a spinning-wheels quality that feels familiar to us. It’s akin to the experience of our minds going over and over a bad situation or painful memory. I will, Geppetto says wearily, “go back to the beginning.” But there’s a glimmer of hope; far from being stuck in his stories, Geppetto seems to slowly change with each mythic re-iteration, propelled through his unhappiness toward something better.

Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities is one of several Concrete Temple productions to tour the U.S. and internationally: The Whale, a one-man version of Moby-Dick, is perhaps the best known. Is this part of Amphibian artistic director Kathleen Culebro’s plan to draw younger audiences? If so, the engaged twenty-something crowd for Geppetto must have made her happy; almost all of them stayed after the show to handle the puppets and ask questions of puppeteer Adinolfi and writer/director Philippi. Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Myths Made of Wood
Concrete Temple Theatre's Geppetto: Extraordinary Extremities is an affecting treat at Amphibian Stage Productions. 
by Jan Farrington

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :