"This Chicago troupe is conjuring phantasms to die for in an unclassifiable story of spectral beauty. And its creators allow their audience to see exactly how they’re doing what they’re doing, which is nothing less than turning substance into shadow and shadow into substance. Such self-exposure, instead of diluting the strength of the illusory, only enhances its hold on our hearts and minds...Yet this singular show retains an air of do-it-yourself humility that makes its soaring enchantment a... Full Review
"The virtuosic group makes elegant live-scored 'silent films' that evoke sweetness, poignancy and fright. Manual Cinema's artists make tangible the care they take...It's been a long time since we've experienced craft, image and emotion blended together like this." Full Review
"It has no dialogue, its methods have a deceptively primitive (in the best sense) quality, and its story is rather simple, but 'Ada/Ava' offers one of the most hypnotically engrossing hours in the theatre you’re likely to spend...an exceptional piece of devised theatre definitely worth a visit." Full Review
"'Ada/Ava' fills a liminal space between the highly technical and the highly emotional, between a well-oiled masterpiece and a casual theatrical experiment, between cinema and theatre. The sheer volume of detail that each performer, musician, and designer has poured into this production inspires nothing less than pure wonderment." Full Review
"Visually striking and radiating love and sincerity, Manual Cinema’s shadow-puppet show 'Ada/Ava', which attempts to explore septuagenarian Ada’s inner turmoil after the death of her twin sister Ava, leaves one emotionally unsatisfied; for all of the production’s lovely elements the story is dull, the show boring...The dramatic failings of 'Ada/Ava' bring out flaws in the production which would have been forgivable otherwise... Still, with all its flaws, 'Ada/Ava' is a curiosity that is wort... Full Review
"'Ada/ Ava' deconstructs the components of a film...Although evocative of silent film, the play is really more of a pensive, emotion-filled reverie. 'Ada/ Ava' gives space for the audience to fill in their thoughts with kind and generous words...Director Drew Dir does a fine job blending elements of performance. He leaves plenty of space for the audience to appreciate their breath, as they follow the characters on this somber journey. The overall theatrical experience is captivating." Full Review
"It is a masterful production whose imaginative intricacies transcend its two-dimensional resources...What makes 'Ada|Ava' particularly spectacular are the complex visuals Manual Cinema use to tell the story. Their thoughtful cinematography gives the piece a heavy cinematic element through its striking imagery and carefully constructed montages, allowing the piece’s more surreal elements to be captured in a way that traditional theatrical techniques cannot...A compelling and awe-inspiring pro... Full Review
"A heartfelt play with strong avant-garde elements...At its core, this is a character-driven play that demands much from its actors. Costumes, puppets, and props do a lot to enhance the atmosphere and make the audience feel closer to both the living Ada and the departed Ava. Although sans words, the play employs a team of musicians to help set the emotional tone of each scene." Full Review
for a previous production "Every once in a while you see something that makes you go, 'Hunh. That's new.' It'll have lots of elements you recognize, but also some that seem entirely strange, and the whole thing will unwind in a way that catches not only your attention but your breath. That's how I felt on seeing 'Ada/Ava' last summer." Full Review
See it if You might enjoy a shadow puppet performance, are willing to try something new, appreciate highly creative work.
Don't see it if You want traditional actors and script, seek a musical entertainment.
See it if you want to experience a beautiful and rare art form that is the shadow puppet that's done in a mind-blowing, "how did they do that" way.
Don't see it if you're not open to experiencing atypical theater.
See it if you like ultra-creative mixed-media, absorbing stories and a witty dash of Hitchkock
Don't see it if you need a highly literal storyline and think puppets are silly or pretentious