A phantasmagorical retelling of Igor Stravinsky's Petrushka

April 12, 2011

Bianca Brown
City Paper
April 12, 2011

On the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka comes a phantasmagorical retelling in Basil Twist’s masterful puppetry.

Petrushka plays the impish clown next to a ballerina with cartoonish grace and a dashing, scimitar-wielding Moor. Petrushka, always thrown aside by the puppeteers, longs to be loved by the ballerina, who rejects him, and a tragic love triangle ensues. The clown follows the ballerina to the Moor’s room, where he throws a tantrum, and then has to flee for his life.

We follow the action through the ether of Twist’s kaleidoscopic glowing shapes, classic Russian cities, and feral creatures. Twin pianists Julia and Irina Elkina lend a dreamy fantasy to the show, playing the original score by Stravinsky below the stage. Petrushka is surprising in its depth of emotion and liveliness of the puppets, achieved through Japanese and Czech methods you get to see in a demo after the show. Petrushka is one of those children’s stories anyone can enjoy because it’s artful and says something about life.