Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Debris: Daniel Wishes & Seri Yanai / Wishes Mystical Puppet Company

A show that blends shadow-puppetry, object puppetry and classic storytelling, Debris by Wishes Mystical Puppet Company imagines a story wherein the 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan begins a ripple reaches across the sea to touch Canadian soil. Three objects surfaced on three Canadian shores years after the tsunami: A fish in a boat, a basketball, and a motorbike. Daniel Wishes and Seri Yanai’s play takes that as a point of departure, and ruminates on potential meanings behind this debris that washed up on shore. Are they simply three pieces of garbage, or is this the work of an intelligent universe trying to convey a message?

The fish, basketball and motorcycle are given stories that are told from a first-person perspective, and the audience is pulled into the fictional legacy that may precede their arrival to Canada. The show is presented primarily through shadow projections of cut-out drawings which are manipulated to add a visual component to Wishes’ storytelling. Though the mechanics of the puppetry are relatively smooth, the slow pace and lack-lustre stories imagined for these objects come across as innocuous and mundane.

While the performance successfully lures the audience with a quiet beauty, the script needs an edit to avoid storylines that draw the audience away from the core meaning of the play. Certain scenes seem to fit badly into the overall narrative, and leave us grasping for the meaning behind Debris.