Presented by Puppet Showplace Theater through their Incubator program
Sponsored by the Jim Henson Foundation and the Bob Jolly Charitable Trust
Created and performed by Brad Shur
Music and sound consultants: Matt McLaren, Brendan Burns
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Brookline Village, MA) The pre-show of Cardboard Explosion consists of resident-artist, Brad Shur, encouraging his child audience to use their imaginations constructively. He asked them if they knew what shapes would be made if he cut a cardboard square in a diagonal line. They responded enthusiastically: triangles. He then asked them what these triangles could be used for, halving them again and again, on the body of a puppet. Via the use of raised hands and waiting to be called upon, various answers from the mundane to the abnormal were called out. Using his wits, kindness, and gentle sincerity, Shur convinced his child and adult audience alike that he was safe, despite the scissors, and trustworthy with burgeoning young minds.
Cardboard Explosion is an audience interactive, educational puppetry show that teaches its audience the value of creative expression. Together, Shur and his audience create a puppet show in pieces by learning the necessary beginnings of character development through plot enrichment. He assumes that kids are capable of learning and understanding abstract concepts. The kids in return rewarded him with their best theatre behaviors. It is pretty magical what can happen when you believe the best in your audience.
On Sunday, we rescued a dog aptly named “Dog” by the kids. This taught us cause and effect of our actions. We learned about conflict when a dinosaur ate our breakfast soup. We saved Cardboard City from a tantruming villain. Thanks to a suggestion from an adult, we learned how to make an evil paralegal from scratch through brainstorming and song. Lastly, Shur gathered up all of these story bits and pieces and exploded them into a unique show just for us. It was lovely but not literally an explosion. To be clear: no explosives were used in the making of this puppet show.
The highlights of the afternoon were Shur’s inspired interactions with the kids and choice adult volunteers. Cardboard Explosion runs about an hour and, considering how much interaction is required of both parents and kids, it can be draining for more introverted audience members. This homegrown production is worth every minute of social time. Please do not hesitate to attend this wonderful production before it moves on.