Anubis Astounds

If you didn’t see Anubis, you missed out on one of the most breathtaking pieces of visual theatre I’ve seen. Sorry about that.

Berlin-based Uta Gerbert is a one-woman manipulation machine. I could hardly believe my eyes as she floated, almost imperceptible in a black outfit, behind one of the most visually arresting, evocative and complex puppets I’ve seen. I simply couldn’t believe that one person was able to expressively operate a puppet’s head (with moveable jaw constructed from jackal skull), two arm rods and cloak (that, at times, detatched from the puppet and needed animating of its own accord), and do so with a nuance and delicacy unsurpassed in anything I have previously seen at the festival.

And that’s just the technical side of things.

Anubis’ thematic content proved just as rewarding as its visual pull. A reflection on mortality through the movements of a skeletal figure of Anubis, an Egyptian god and judge of the dead, the piece works at you slowly, pulling threads and themes with care until a final, exquisite moment of self-revelation and realisation between the manipulator and puppet brings us full circle between life and death, knowledge and naivety, being and been.

Anubis was astounding. I feel privileged to have experienced it.

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