The Professor, the Puppet, and the Execution

I saw The Professor, the Puppet, and the Execution by Todd Moore and his son, a largely unadvertised and experimental play in The Bullit section of Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre. Given that I can't find any information about it in the theatre's own website, I am unable to provide specific details about the production itself. What I want to do is comment on some the themes that were touched upon.

The best aspect of the play is its commentary on violence. The plot tells the story of Kyle who is about to be executed for killing his wife and son. The play makes the point that violence occurs in this world because children are exposed to it at an early age. This is accomplished not just by showcasing Kyle's abuse as a child, but also in an initial discourse about how violence pervades society, and in the way we take delight in executions.

As I've said many times before, violence is never the solution any problem (I'm a pacifist). Even if it works in the short term, it is bound to lead to more violence in the longer term. All the children in the world are essentially taught the lesson that "might makes right" whenever violence is used to solve a problem. For that reason, no matter how justified a cause might be, the use of violence completes negates it. This is partly the reason we see school shootings and other random acts of violence today.

The play is structured in an interesting manner: we jump between Kyle's childhood and his current situation, until the two story lines converge. The story is told using puppets which are handled extremely well. The voices were done exceptionally well. The set design was fairly minimal, and in my view, not the best. Perhaps I missed the point, but it wasn't clear why we had to see the puppeteers while the puppets were being manipulated.

The biggest problem I had with the play was its lack of focus. While the ideas presented were very good, the initial commentary about violence, the case of Kyle, and the final commentary about the nature of the death penalty don't fit together into a cohesive whole. There are some extraneous bits that could be eliminated. But keep in mind, this was a preliminary version and later productions will hopefully be a lot more tight.

Play ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||