Inspired by the music of Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline, and told almost entirely without dialogue, 'Lula del Ray' is the story of a lonely adolescent girl who lives with her mother on the outskirts of a vast satellite field in the mid-20th-century American Southwest. After a chance encounter over the radio, Lula becomes obsessed with a soulful country music duo, the Baden Brothers. Inspired by their music, she runs away from home and into a world of danger, deception, and disappointment.
"A strange and lovely dream, full of a far-off eerie sadness and sweet mystery, like some kind of apocalyptic lullaby...'Lula Del Ray,' and Manual Cinema in general, are wholly deserving of the highest praise...There is a lot going on, and it all goes on very gracefully and, interestingly, in such a way that the audience is able to see all the inner workings—all of which are so harmonious, so fluid, that, far from detracting from the wizardry of it all, rather add a very enchanting element." Full Review
"‘Lula Del Ray’ shattered the perceptions of what theatre should and can be…By combining these mediums, ‘Lula Del Ray’ is able to accomplish feats that theatre can’t. The audience is inserted into Lula’s dizziest daydreams, and the line between fantasy and reality is blurred…Although traditional theatre still is a magical art form, this combination of film and stage tells Lula’s story more effectively than a typical stage show would." Full Review
"A perspective-melting world...Dreamy in all senses of the word. It tells its story in the twilight zone between shadow and substance...The production features all sorts of ingenious handmade equivalents for cinematic effects: close-ups, long shots, pans...It is a crucial part of this production’s magic that the tellers and their tale blur into a single spellbound self." Full Review
"The story is in places lovely and funny and touching, but it is not the reason 'Lula Del Ray' has traveled the festival circuit for five years...The essential charm of the show rests in the marvel of ingenuity on display, the rushing around of the actors and puppeteers and overhead projector operators, to reproduce manually, on a simple screen placed on stage, the catalog of modern film techniques...Somebody at Manual Cinema clearly went to film school." Full Review
"Almost anything a film can do, Manual Cinema can match...The tale of Lula's wanderings is consistently engaging, and, there isn't a single wasted image in the telling. Charlotte Long and Sara Sawicki play Lula and her mother; each has mastered the knack of signaling an emotion with a single shadowy gesture; they are aided immensely by puppeteers Lizi Breit and Sam Deutsch. The company's work is both charmingly naïve and surprisingly sophisticated." Full Review
"The Manual Cinema folk from Chicago (they presented 'Ada/Ava' here last year) work their lo-fi shadow-puppet magic with 'Lula Del Ray,' another of their exquisite live-created films. They've refined their techniques to an astonishing edge...There's less risk in 'Lula' than there was in 'Ada,' and we drift along in it rather than being swept violently downriver as we were in the other work. For sheer craft, though, you'll find nothing more lovingly made." Full Review
"There is much to fall in love with here, the sometimes gorgeous aesthetic...the atmospheric score...and the whole troupe’s creative vision and energy...Sarah Fornace and Julia Miller are admirable in making every gesture concrete...Still, the story of Lula’s crush on fictional crooners The Baden Brothers doesn’t take us on much of a journey...Though she blasts off finally for space, 'Lula del Ray’s' star-gazing left me earthbound, yet bedazzled all the same by Manual Cinema’s artful poetry." Full Review
"It’s like being in the audience at an old radio show where half the fun is seeing how they do it...But in fact it’s very hard to sustain a 75-minute silent movie with no dialogue...Worse, the show bungles the story line completely in the final third...With such a simple story, the first reaction should not be audience members wondering if they missed something...Happily, watching the cast go through its paces was pleasure enough...They really need to work on their story structure." Full Review
"How it’s told is really more important than what it tells. Too bad neither how nor what is completely satisfying...The screen images we see are often striking, sometimes clever, but ultimately they’re just pretty pictures. Watching the puppeteers create the images is a more rewarding exercise but it too falls short. The problem is that while witnessing technique can be quite pleasurable for a while, that pleasure has a limited shelf life, which 'Lula del Ray' lavishly exceeds." Full Review
for a previous production "‘Lula del Ray’ was incredible…It’s a haunting story of a young girl coming of age…The ability of these puppeteers is astonishing. They seamless create scenes by layering shadow puppets on top of colorful scenes…They make her world come alive for the audience…They skillfully integrate the live and puppet versions of the characters…The attention to detail is amazing…I can’t wait to see what Manual Cinema does next." Full Review
for a previous production "One of the most innovative shows I’ve seen lately…The whole technique itself is worth seeing, and combined with the compelling if slow-moving story, the show carries both a sparkling kind of suspense and a glowing emotional weight leavened by flecks of humor…Towards the end, the pacing warps, making you anticipate a conclusion a few times before it actually comes. But that was the only thing I didn’t love about this immersive, inventive, almost incredible experience." Full Review
See it if you're interested in unusual techniques with animation, shadow, puppets. You've literally never seen anything like this before I guarantee
Don't see it if you lack imagination or wonder. You like dialogue (there's none)
See it if you are open to new forms. Unlike anything I have seen before a delightful combination of live performance, drawings & stick puppets.
Don't see it if you are expecting a traditional theatrical experience. This is unique and charming but it is preformed without words to live music.
See it if You love movement. You like compelling stories and are open to no dialogue. You like exploring the craft of theater.
Don't see it if You only like traditional theater. You are looking for a show with dialogue. You aren't open to anything new.
See it if you enjoy a fun story of a young girl and her big dreams / enjoy seeing the behind the scenes of shadow puppet storytelling
Don't see it if you want to see a play - it is much more a cinematic experience - or if you want something with a meatier plot
See it if see it for the incredible means of storytelling. The use of puppetry and overhead projector is incredible. Unlike anything I've ever seen.
Don't see it if you are essentially watching a silent film (with a beautiful live score) but there is no dialogue and the narrative does drag a little bit.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies