The Fabview: The wonder of the Wonderheads
Through masks and without words a heartfelt story comes to life
I was not quite sure what to expect from the Wonderheads’ “The Wilds” performance. Before the March 30 show people would ask me what it would be about, and I had a hard time trying to answer.
It took me experiencing part of the show to really formulate a response. I remember thinking part way into the performance how this was a dance, a play, a musical and puppet show without words. Regardless of what you call this show, what we saw was amazing, beautiful, entertaining and very heartfelt.
Basically, this story, conveyed without spoken words, was about a man who lost his wife and through various struggles was able to reconnect with her towards the end.
Kate Braidwood and Andrew Phoenix are the co-founders of Wonderheads and the two performers on stage. They were human puppets in full face masks telling a story through body language, music, sound effects and lighting.
A single word was never uttered, yet all the other elements of the show kept my mind making up the dialogue that was never spoken. The way they’d turn their heads, the timing of their masks’ movements and of their bodies to the music and sound effects spoke for them.
The few simple props they had on stage were easily choreographed and manipulated to give extra meaning and understanding to the show.
Noteworthy props were three wooden blocks of various sizes that the duo sometimes laid on their sides, upright or even pulled other props out of.
In one scene they stacked the three wooden blocks on top of each other to resemble a tree. An old man took his hatchet and started hacking away as the other performer grabbed the top portion as though it has been cut off and choreographed its way flying through the air as it fell to the ground and then again with the second piece.
For me, it held a greater meaning – prompting me to think of some of the stumbling blocks we all have standing before us, emotionally or physically, that we personally need to hack away at, so we can carry on with our own life free of unnecessary and excess baggage.
With the performers not using any verbal words my mind also wandered to deeper meanings, considering that maybe, sometimes, it's not as important what we say but how we say things through our body language and actions: being conscious of what our thoughts and feelings are and how we express them. It reminded me of how sometimes a silent hug might be the most important thing we can say.
I asked 12-year-old JudyGail Blodgett, who has seen many WMPAC shows, if she thought this show was made for children or adults. She replied, "it was made for people of all ages."
Blodgett also opined that it was a great new perspective on storytelling and that, "you don't have to listen to a bunch of words and you get to use your own imagination."
Spoiler alert! When asked what her favorite part was, the young WMPAC patron said it was at the end, when the man found that even though his wife had died, she was still with him.
It was amazing to see a show that both young kids and adults could really love, appreciate, enjoy and connect with. This story made me think of regret, longing, hope and opening ourselves up to a brighter and lighter future.
Now, I can adequately describe what the show’s about for those who might be wondering. With body language, timing, lighting, songs and sound effects the Wonderheads brought beautiful static full-face masks to life in a form of storytelling which highlighted the importance of bringing our own lives, thoughts and feelings to life.