Present Shock, Quasimondo, Children of Pac-man

In an absurdly crude frog jumpsuit Ben Ludwig lays on a table. Pulled through a large television screen prop by a Quasite actor hooded in a Space Invader alien mask, they finally got him. Another Space Invader joins. Under eerie soft white backlight, they inspect the limbs of the most illusive character on the video game family tree, ancient cartoon hero Frogger. What do they want with him? We’ll never know.

Qusimondo Physical Theatre’s troop have fast become recognized as part of the vangaurd of Milwaukee’s theater scene, if nothing else fearless and bizarre, Children of Pac-man embodies plenty of those reasons. Quasimondo are masters of surreal and metaphorical story telling. What better subject matter to apply their vision. 

Digital Divide

We all know that incursions of digital content in work and social life have permenantly transformed modern life. Video games provided computers an easy in to American homes. Brian Rott and Jessi Miller take us through a retrospective of digital eras narrated by poetic monologues of budding perfomance artist Kavon Jones.

A series of short scenes make-up the play, all centered on various video game characters and their interactions with humans, and each other, in common and social setting. The Pac-man family and the ghosts feature prominently, along with Dig-dug (Kath Vanderberg), the Mario Princess (Rebecca Goetz), Metroid (Sarah Seefeldtand Carmen San Diego (Jenny Reinke).

Live Action TV

Music, video and sound effect montages (and sometimes combinations there of) interrupt the scenes playfully exploiting various iconic sounds during different eras. Carmen San Diego does a ditty to a Smooth Criminal 8-bit mash-up and a glammed-out Jessi Miller leads several routines, including a memorably kitzchy ode to Lady Gaga Mtv award-performances to a remix of Kanye’s Power and King Crimson

Children of Pac-man is chalked with hilarious props, old video game props like the Advantage and Nintendo light-pistol appear as mythically valued artifacts, although absolete and worthless. Found footage of video games’ past including, that awsome 3-D line drawn tank game, Defender, Punch Out, Battletoads, Duck Hunt and of course Pong work into the production. In some spots video footage wouldn’t do, so live-action recreations of Pac-man, Centipede, Donkey Kong and Asteriods, bringing these games into the material would with LED lights and fluorescent paint. 

In the end you realize Quasimondo has challenged you to think about how technology has influenced our dating, dinning, family, and educational social customs and our views on stange places and far away lands, Adult Swim style.

Last chance to see this show Sunday December 6 at 2:00p, Studio G at the Shops of Grand Avenue (across from Tj Maxx).

A lot of technical work went into this show credits go to Erin Eggers (lighting design), Therese Goode (sound design), Michael Petit (puppetry and stage design), Seraphina Vandentoorn and David George (technical direction), Julia Teeguarden (scenic painter), Kyra Renee, Jessi Miller, Jenni Reinke, Brian Rott (choreography), Bridget Cookson and Phoenix Brown (production and design assistants) and Andy Von Walsheim and Michael Weiss (media).

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