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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Theatre review: Caws and Effect is a gem

Deep inside the Historic Cultch, a mini-magic show is waiting to start. Mind of a Snail Theatre’s Caws and Effect is a pun-heavy, surrealist escape into a  world of eco-conscious shadow puppets – a show that is as aptly bizarre as that sentence.

In Caws and Effect a crow gets hold of a dream seed allowing the creature to re-imagine the world as we know it. Using two old school projectors and a selection of beautiful cellophane artwork, Chloe Ziner and Jessica Gabriel “get real” about nature and industry without preaching. From their twitching heads, to the beautiful original score, everything is calculated to suck you into their world.

The visuals are stunning. The final moments, told through a moving mish-mash of lavender light, dance across the ceiling with a ghostly beauty that feels both old-fashioned yet fresh in a world of backlit glows. Ziner and Gabriel’s background pieces, layers of brightly coloured cellophane, create landscapes that move and grow cinematically like a series of Roald Dahl illustrations come to life.

There’s a sense of child-like innocence to the show that forces you to overlook its flaws. Perhaps it is the handmade quality of the props and costumes, or the bright-eyed exuberance of the performers, but Caws and Effect is a show that generates indulgent “aws” from its audience. While the series of puns begins to grate halfway through and the ending remains unclear,  the charm of the show lies in its ability to connect with the elementary school kid hidden inside each of us. Caws and Effect gives that kid the chance to play with a projector again and watch a magical puppet show – a lovely way to spend an hour of your night.

Caws and Effect is a show of heartfelt craftsmanship that’s charm papers over its weaknesses. It’s a gem of a show.

Caws and Effect by Mind of a Snail Theatre. On stage at The Cultch (1895 Venables Street, Vancouver) until May 24 as part of the 2015 rEvolver Theatre Festival. Visit for tickets and information.

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