The comedic absurdities of Nature Calls and Rasputin will leave the audience in stitches. The foreboding and creepy sights of The Narrative Of Victor Karloch will haunt the audience’s memory long after it is over. All that to say, Handmade Puppet Dreams has a short to suit everyone’s fancy. The styles of puppetry on display are equally varied and engaging.
There is only one segment of Handmade Puppet Dreams that I don’t think worked at all. Bunny Love fails to establish Mabel, the person the bunny falls for, very well, so it is hard to care about whether she or the bunny is happy. Plus, as a send-up of romance movie cliches, it feels more like a tried and true romantic comedy than a farce. It never goes far enough to ensure that these well-worn elements are being made fun of, as opposed to rely on. This makes for a rather dull 8-minutes, despite the talent on display in terms of the acting.
“Several styles of puppetry…wonderfully showcase the versatility and artistry of this form of storytelling.”
For my money, the best of the bunch, in no particular order, are Lessons Learned, which is a fun fantasy with quickly established its characters; Junk Palace, for its heartbreaking ending and jaw-dropping puppetry style; The Narrative Of Victor Karloch is engrossing and atmospheric, with a fantastic voice acting; Nature Calls, which bills itself as a live-action cartoon (think Looney Tunes, only puppets) as its all-out brawl of wildlife and plants is hysterical and fun; Amaterasu features the most mesmerizing designs, and its epic story is gripping; and the beautiful, wordless Yamasong, which shouldn’t be that huge a surprise, given my love of its feature-length sequel.
When you hear the name Henson, your mind instantly races to puppets, Muppets, and fantasy. I am pleased to report that Handmade Puppet Dreams, produced by Heather Henson, keeps that legacy in perfect tack. There are shorts presented that cater to whatever mood you happen to be in. Several styles of puppetry from sock, table top, marionette, and shadow, among others, are on display and wonderfully showcase the versatility and artistry of this form of storytelling.
"…shorts presented that cater to whatever mood you happen to be in."