Monday, March 7, 2011

Review of "My Dear Lewis" by Kyle Loven

"My Dear Lewis" by Kyle Loven
6th Annual Orlando Puppet Festival
Friday, December 3rd, 2010 
Gallery at Avalon Island

The moment he ripped the hair from his own head, just a foot or two away from me in the intimate Theater at Avalon Island, the watery state of my eyes recalled me to myself. I had forgotten I had a body or a name. Placeless and weightless for the first half of the show, I was enthralled by the dark whimsy and mystery of Kyle Loven’s “My Dear Lewis”.

Kyle was brought to Orlando from his base in Seattle as part of IBEX Puppetry’s annual Orlando Puppet Festival and his low-tech, emotionally draining show was arguably the highlight of an exciting and diverse weekend of puppet-oriented theater.

It was the revelation of the main character’s heart, emerging pale and anatomically correct from its place in a locked box padded with hairs torn from the protagonists’ head, that connected me directly to the story. I ceased being an observer and found myself in Lewis-the Everyman, the Eternal Soul-as he looked back through all the lives and loves he’d experienced and struggled to find a foothold in the muddy limbo between sleep and waking, between birth and death as he hovered partially aware in the collective unconsciousness where our memories hide to preserve themselves.

“My Dear Lewis” plays with archetypical oppositions such as Heaven and Hell, mind and body, and, of course, man and woman, illustrating with extremes everything that exists between and because of extremes. Like soft muscle flexing against tough bone to create movement, memories arise from the interplay of these extremes in our lives. To stretch this idea further, Kyle’s puppetry also experiments with actor/object, fire/water, light/dark, and imagery/words.  This constant attention to conflict means that, while watching “My Dear Lewis”, you cannot overlook the irresolvable clash at the center of human existence: we live to remember, we remember to forget, and ultimately… we live to die.

All of this intensity is tempered by clever visual humor and tender details. The desk atop which “My Dear Lewis” comes alive is scratched and dotted with paint. Stitches on fabric pieces are visible; so are the carving marks on the unfinished wood puppets. Lines of newspaper text are legible on the papier-mâché puppets. The hair on a child marionette is Kyle’s own.

Find out more about Kyle Loven's latest exploits at

by Hannah

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