Innocent When You Dream is a short performance piece by Trouble Puppet Theatre Company member Zeb L. West. It is a crazy, mixed-up mash-up of the biblical Jonah and the Whale, Moby Dick, and Don Quixote, all made plain in about 45 minutes. Audiences in Canada and elsewhere in the United States have already enjoyed it. After its two performances in Austin’s Salvage Vanguard Theater, additional traveling dates will be engaged, so audiences everywhere will still be able to enjoy its craziness.
Why describe it as crazy? When the performance lights go up at the beginning of the performance, there is this man telling everyone that they are in the belly of the whale together with him, and his name is Jonah. OK, now it is revealed that this is a piece about insanity, confirmed by Jonah’s incessant talk of the crackers that he lived on that all got soggy so he can’t share any with the audience.
Where could anyone go with this insane premise? Mr. West/Jonah showed deftness in taking all with him by charming use of his sweetness, friendliness, and a lot of encouraging talk directly to the audience. The audience was with him from the git-go. West showed a certain boldness as well, spinning engaging material out of the two probably mossiest, most hidebound but eternally fascinating works of literature found lying about inside whales, Don Quixote and Moby Dick. West merged their stories into a lament for all lives and relationships gone wrong. Yes, this show was about love and loss.
Trouble Puppet’s puppets always have the quality of imagination in their fabrication, color, and concept. The human touch gives them life. And puppeteers, good ones, know the character they want to give each puppet. All of Zeb West’s puppets were hand puppets, their characters keyed distinctively by West’s character voices. Their stories meshed into a satisfying whole, and the stage was inhabited by a number of fascinating characters, without any use of ventriloquism. Watch listings for it on its travels.