The Serpent's Egg, produced by Paperhand Puppet Intervention, is an exploration with folklore into what life is and what life could be like. Eighty percent of the production is purely performance art with no words. Dancers work as puppeteers and story tellers in a variety of ways – from larger than life two dimensional pieces to commedia dell'arte sketches.
The story flows through five cycles of storytelling, each with its own theme. The cycles begin with birth, growth, and exploration as they move through life. The cycles conclude into death as the circle of life is explored. The final cycle – really more of a summary – is where language is first introduced as a form of storytelling.
The event was intended to appeal to an audience of all ages. The spectacle of the puppets certainly held the children's attention and entertained them with music and dance, but words appeared in the final fifth act that surely went over their heads. In the fifth act, a verbal story was told that, more or less, verbosely described what we had all just seen and then introduced new thoughts. The story began to feel pulled in too many directions and the point became lost.
The visual elements were stunning and the choreography of all of the dancers/puppeteers was extremely specific. The most beautiful episodes were when the elements of being outside fused with the action onstage. As the sun set and the lights of the stage shone, the vibrant colors of the thirty-foot-tall puppets radiated. The clear moon rose behind the stage as the summer's day turned to a warm night and the audience sat in awe of the spectacle. At the end of the "cycle of life" act, the forty-foot-long serpent puppet moved into the audience to exit through the back. The lights of the stage dimmed and yellow-amber light shone down on the serpent's massive head. As music continued playing through the exit – drums, cello, keyboard, guitar, etc. – the serpent lowered its head into the crowd. Children began rushing forward to touch him. As a bystander, it began to look like an altar call and the whole experience felt very religious as these children were so innocently drawn to the puppet creature.
While the story had some weak moments as it tried to conquer too much¸ the spectacle and the craft of puppetry was beautiful. The children enjoyed the extravagant show and it was a lovely evening for families.