Forest in the Night is a startling and original work that challenges the traditional perceptions of puppetry.
Exploring themes of evolution, chaos theory, Darwinism, and the survival of the fittest, more than 25 puppets transform into new and strange creatures in a stunning spectacle backed by a stirring original sound score.
Forest uses no strings, no black lights, no booth. Instead the installation is simultaneously puppets, props, set and stage. It is a giant ballet in which the principal dancers are amoebas, worms, primitive spidery crustaceans and a forest of gently waving coral.
At first glance the world of Forest appears familiar. Lush green fields cover the slopes of three interconnected mountains. Tiny puppet cows are grazing contentedly, the wind catches the leaves on the trees, the birds are singing.
In the distance propelled by a skeleton figure is an aeroplane. It too is a familiar sight. It comes closer and closer. The plane collides with the mountains and this is the cataclysmic act that signals the end to the familiar. The whole world turns upside down.
The gentle grass peels back from the earth to reveal an underlying devastation. All the familiar elements of our ordinary world disappear—plane, trees, cows—and we are transported to a new and entirely imaginary world.
Now it is a primordial landscape and it gives birth to a number of giant puppet creatures. An egg-like organism rolls out of a shallow depression at the centre of the hills. A maggoty cocoon plops to the ground and tentatively explores. A colourful shell spirals aimlessly. A long, thin gliding section of the mountain cracks off, like a piece of flint or shale, like bark from a tree, or a floating sea plant. A sinister black spidery creature bursts from the soil. It is the first of the creatures to be hungry. It tries to devour the first creature it encounters, only to be speedily repulsed.
These beautiful, fragile and very weird creatures enter the next part of their evolutionary phase. Like the caterpillar turning into the butterfly, each of the creatures split open to reveal a new form. From one comes a dough-like precursor to the human being, from another a demented chicken, from yet another comes a worm with suckers. These creatures are forced to evolve in order to communicate with each other and survive.
The metamorphosis creates images of startling beauty, reminiscent of coral or blooming flowers. Colourful fronds unfurl, the newest creatures pop out from all over the barren earth changing it completely.