Julia @ 'Feral'- the limit does not exist
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Using puppetry, film and theatre, Feral tells the story of a peaceful town disrupted by the construction of a giant arcade.
Theatre can do wonders to bring imagination to life, but it has its limit. A budget for special effects can only do so much. Film, however, can go so beyond the limit that it seems as if…
Film special effects can create magic on screen, whether it’s shooting lasers from your eyeballs like Superman or summoning a portal to go to a far away land or whatever you saw in Avengers: Endgame. Theatre alone cannot do that. Film also has the ability to dictate what you look at in a scene, like focusing on one character in a room filled with people.
Although Feral didn’t have people doing magic, its tiny cardboard-box town coming to life was pretty magical. Imagine a world like in the computer game The Sims, but the characters are clay figures moved by tiny sticks attached to their limbs. (See the photo to right).
Just like in a new Sims game, everything seemed calm at first. Feral introduced a brother and sister, Joe and Dawn, and their mom. As these ‘main’ characters explored the city, we got an inside look at some passersby: a priest being heckled by a squirrel, a butcher getting his sausages snatched by a dog and a couple making out by the park.
There wasn’t a clear plot as far as I could tell. The calm city turned into a dystopia after the mayor had an arcade called the Supercade built. I didn’t understand why people were so angry with the Supercade that they became murderous rioters.
Just like in the Sims scenario, I didn’t really understand what happened as communication wasn’t clear. If you’ve ever played Sims, you know things sometimes get way out of control. One minute you’re reading a book and then the next your house is on fire and the Grim Reaper has come to claim your soul.
The lack of narrative might have been deliberate, which was fine with me. I was more fascinated by the execution of the overall production
I thought focusing more on the ‘world,’ instead of just the main characters, was refreshing. Usually, you don’t get this in theatre productions. In film and even in animation, there are shots of the ‘outside world.’ Like in the opening of a movie, you don’t normally see the main characters right away. You get a montage of short clips of the location the first scene takes place in, or someone driving down a highway.
Using cameras, Feral was able to capture the tiniest details. One camera would zoom in on the doors and windows of a building, then the screen would switch to another camera’s feed showing what was going on inside.
The filming was a little sloppy, but that couldn’t be avoided as the cameras were all handheld. But that sloppiness actually helped create some emotion. During one transition scene, Joe showed the audience his sketchbook full of superheroes and the camera would shake to simulate flight. The sound guy created all the sound effects which, in my opinion, were what glued everything together.
I sat right behind him, and he would either press play on prerecorded looped beats or create a loop on the spot. I was transported back to 2013 when I watched Ed Sheeran at MSG do the same thing for most of his songs.
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