New York | 0h 50m | Already closed

The Paper Hat Game

From 12 critic and 22 member reviews
Members say: Clever, Slow, Quirky, Ambitious, Original

About the show

The Tank presents Scotty Iseri's misadventures as whimsical prankster through the language of toy theater and projection. More…

The hero of this visual kaleidoscope hands out paper hats on the subway with the intention of bringing a bit of childlike joy to daily commuters. But even heroes fall on hard times, and despite the Paper Hat Guy’s daily attempt to brighten the city, the city isn’t always able to reciprocate. Torry Bend transforms this almost-true story into a constantly shifting landscape of urban life via live puppetry, intricate models, photo-motion video, and a collage of shifting scenery—all layered into a performance space only slightly bigger than an oven.

Off Off Online

"It’s rare to see anything remotely like 'The Paper Hat Game': a seamless and brilliant performance. The delicacy, virtuosity, and utter freshness of this avant-garde theater work will delight you long after you’ve left the theater...The 50-minute production is visually and acoustically dense—exquisitely so...'The Paper Hat Game' brings a childlike sense of wonder to the mundane." Full Review

The New York Times

"This enchanting, sui generis toy theater piece provides a multilayered, multidimensional portrait of a Chicago in perpetual upheaval and a man who is nearly crushed by it...The timeless 50 minutes of the show’s duration is rather like a magically charged version of the hat from the title: an unexpected mitzvah that shakes the urban blinders off our eyes and forces us to see the uncanny beauty and terror of where we live." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"An unexpected delight…It’s a transcendent experience as we delve into the psychology of a large and busy metropolis…The highly innovative video and photo motion animation will have you questioning what is real and what is imagined…'The Paper Hat Game' is both joyous in its childlike wonder and emotionally brave and revealing in its storytelling. It is a most unique theatrical experience that will satisfy all your senses." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The entire enterprise is so singular, so original, and, in its small-scale way, so daring...Where 'The Paper Hat Game' disappoints is in the narrative department...It coasts for a good long while on its sheer visual invention...In the final analysis, 'The Paper Hat Game' succeeds more as a demonstration of the skill of its creative team than as a fully realized piece of work...Still, shows as original and dazzling as this don't come along every day. I'm betting you'll be mesmerized." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"The narrative—which touches on themes of alienation, loneliness, and the difficulties of communication within the urban jungle—is a bit fuzzy and lacks fullness; even the visuals aren’t always immediately accessible. However, the overall combination of video, puppetry, and multiple scenic devices showing the urban landscape from both interior and exterior perspectives is exceptional." Full Review

Village Voice

“Relying on a dense soundtrack of city noise with only sporadic dialogue, ‘Paper Hat’ toys with a couple of narrative styles but never settles on one (a brief foray into documentary, for instance, jars). The visual artistry, however, delivers. Creator/director Torry Bend and video designer Raquel Salvatella de Prada play with scale, depth, and perspective to make colorful use of limited space...It's a riveting, kinesthetic experience that makes ‘Paper Hat’ worth the ride.” Full Review

Berkshire Fine Arts

"The show is crammed with moving images, box scenes, live puppets manipulated by live puppeteers performing before projections, with loud live sounds...The bleacher seats at 3 Legged Dog distance viewers from the miniature happening. Probably a more intimately laid out setting would have helped the audience enjoy the show even more. At a distance, it was charming and moving, disquieting and lively." Full Review

New York Theatre Guide

"Overall, the story is a delight for adults and children alike...Certain sections of the story seem to be drawn out longer than necessary, but it is worth it to see the imagery. It is not until very late in the piece that Iseri’s character speaks. He explains a darker part of the story that would have otherwise been extremely unclear…The toy theatre piece is a miniature reminder of the joy, trials, and winning attitude that, combined, make up New York City." Full Review

Triangle Arts and Entertainment

for a previous production "Ingenious and truly original, 'The Paper Hat Game' is a toy-theater piece for children of all ages — and 'For the Ages.' Creator and director Torry R. Bend and cohorts have given a face to a faceless male subway commuter in present-day America, and transformed his story into a timeless tale. If Triangle Theater Review had a five-star system to rate the excellence of theatrical productions, 'The Paper Hat Game' would get six!" Full Review

The Minnesota Daily

for a previous production "A compelling, elegant delight…A simple and beautiful story, which is where the show gets its power. The narrative never pulls any punches — its visuals drive the action forward deliberately and charmingly, always pulling its audience along for the ride...It’s a well-oiled machine that communicates the depths of human connection with sparse dialogue. That’s not an easy accomplishment." Full Review

Indy Week

for a previous production "Torry Bend brings a brilliantly cinematic dimension to this area's formidable puppetry scene...A sense of playful invention permeates this work as Bend, Salvatella de Prada and a cadre of lighting and puppet designers test just how completely they can merge the realms of film, stage and puppetry…'The Paper Hat Game' also demonstrates the degree to which such humble materials can take us, all but literally, on another person's journey." Full Review

Absorbing, Ambitious, Enchanting, Intelligent, Elegant design

See it if you like puppet theater for adults about the challenge to remain human in an urban environment and you like incredibly well-crafted design.

Don't see it if you don't like meditatively paced theater without dialogue and if you need your theater to last longer than one hour.

Clever, Enchanting, Exquisite, Masterful, Quirky

See it if You're a fan of detailed puppets with a quirky story. Super great puppets. Attention to detail is amazing. Story is odd but sweet.

Don't see it if You can't handle quirky. This show is small but powerful.

Exquisite, Great staging, Quirky, Masterful, Original

See it if you like experimental theatre presentation and design, especially puppetry and animation

Don't see it if you want your puppet shows to have plot and dramatic complexity.

Clever, Original

See it if You are open to puppets. It is a pensee on the big cold city, and an attempt to brighten it. Not all goes well, but the craft is impressive

Don't see it if You need things to move forward crisply. It is a long hour.

Clever, Entertaining, Edgy

See it if You like innovative staging, but try to sit near the front, it's small and a little dark. Hard to see in the back.

Don't see it if You hate puppets, are easily bored by non-linear "arty" shows.

Clever, Slow, Great staging, More an art performance than a theatre performance, Beautiful paper sculptures

See it if You enjoy art installations. This is a series of slow-moving, pretty dioramas of paper & video. You like puppetry & want to see backstage.

Don't see it if You want a traditional theatre piece with a story & a lot of dialogue. You don't enjoy puppetry and/or art.

Clever, Great staging, Slow, Original, Delightful

See it if you want to see some really great puppetry. The mixed-media aspect was cool, but the paper work was really the best part.

Don't see it if you value story over form. Also, if you get uncomfortable with technical difficulties. Felt like we had several and my stomach was a knot.

Original, Quirky, Innovative, Clever

See it if you're looking to see something out of the ordinary. This is more puppetry and performance art than a play, but still very enjoyable.

Don't see it if you need dialogue or a plot to enjoy a show.

Wonderfully creative, Clever, Ambitious, Visual urban feast, Animated tableau

See it if You like offbeat theatre, visual art, puppets

Don't see it if You need a plot-driven play with much verbiage

Quirky, Refreshing, Ambitious

See it if you want to see a short, quirky & creative show with terrific puppetry, you can look beyond puppets to see exploration of human experience

Don't see it if you don't like puppets, you can't arrive early to get a seat close to the front (the "stage" is very small)

Ambitious, Slow, Original, Quirky, Intelligent

See it if You like something different, and if you not good with sitting through a long show because this show is very short.

Don't see it if You get bored easily or you don't like visual rather speaking shows

Ambitious, Clever, Confusing, Masterful, Original

See it if You enjoy PHENOMENAL puppetry. The sets and puppets were masterfully executed, as were the projections. Plus they let you go backstage!

Don't see it if You need a linear story. This was less story...more...multi-media exploration, beautifully executed. However, it felt long for a 1 hour show

Clever, Enchanting, Ambitious, Intelligent

See it if You appreciate multi media shows that are clever and unique

Don't see it if If you get bored easily as some of it goes on too long is sensitive to sounds get distracted easily

During previews
Clever, Slow, Intelligent, Quirky, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy great visuals You are open to a non-linear story that rolls out at a leisurely pace targeting your senses not your logic.

Don't see it if You expect a shallow children's show.

During previews
Clever, Enchanting, Delightful, Refreshing, Original

See it if you can use your imagine to fill in the spaces where reality isn't handed to you ...resulting in a magical shimmer

Don't see it if you need everything explained and delineated

Related content

Cast & Creatives (13)