THE THREE DEATHS OF EBONY BLACK - MELBOURNE
THE THREE DEATHS OF EBONY BLACK, at the Butterfly Club Melbourne, 14-19May 2018.
The Three Deaths of Ebony Black follows the life and death of a sweet little old lady in an hour-long puppetry play with a beginning, a middle and an end, and original music by Amberly Cull and Robert Woods. The outstanding music is the glue that holds the romp together, a piece based on this quote by neuroscientist David Eagleman:
“There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”
The play opens on Ebony Black, a brilliantly-made marionette created by Danny Miller; her detail is so real it makes your heart leap, and she’s deftly worked by puppeteers Cull and Nick Pages-Oliver.
We see a flash of Ebony’s life, old age and death. Enter a swag of characters; a funeral director and his obedient sidekick, Ebony’s twin grumpy sister, a nurse who fulfils Ebony’s wishes of being cremated, and the evil son and daughter of the grumpy twin who want to purchase the funeral business – yep and it’s all puppetry.
Cull has a beautiful singing voice and these moments are terrific, but some characters are muddled by somewhat garbled, too-speedy voicing. Pages-Oliver and Cull play all the roles and there is a lot of swapping of puppets. This, of course, can lead to occasional amusing ad libs when the wrong one appears. They play off each other well and on the night I attended, the audience was appreciative and onside.
However, I wasn’t convinced with the overall shorts outfits, they kept pulling my focus away from the puppets. Nevertheless, good writing, great music and lyrics and Ms Ebony is beautiful.