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The Flatiron Hex

This enthralling sci-fi tale with shades of film noir is set in an apocalyptic NYC, and is performed solo by the puppeteer extraordinaire James Godwin.

James Godwin and puppet in a scene from “The Flatiron Hex” (Photo credit: Richard Termine)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

With an awesome display of virtuosity, puppeteer extraordinaire James Godwin vividly enacts an enthralling sci-fi tale with shades of film noir in The Flatiron Hex.

Watching Mr. Godwin is like experiencing the wonderment of covertly witnessing a child alone in a basement playing with his action figures. Godwin has the air of spontaneously concocting an elaborate fantasy while energetically acting out all of the parts.  When not chuckling or laughing, one is perpetually smiling throughout.

“NYORG” is the grim terrain that New York City has become after torrential storms, viruses and plagues.  Mayor Viscous (a conjoined, imperious woman and a man who sounds like Christopher Walken) is running for reelection against The Tongue, who is a giant tongue.

Caught up in these machinations, and set up for a murder he didn’t commit is the heroic Wylie Walker.  He is a plumber and shaman who casts spells by reciting gibberish such as “Oshkosh…Neil Sedeka…Bayonne… .”  Satirical television news broadcasts from a monopolistic agency are shown.  The Rat Queen and The Toad King prominently figure in the action. An Irish accented bartender, Wylie’s wise hologram mother, his disaffected sister and her newborn, tough-talking son also appear.

Puppeteer James Godwin in a scene from “The Flatiron Hex” (Photo credit: Richard Termine)

Dazzling hand puppets, stick puppets, marionettes and shadow puppets that are projected onto screens, which were all created by Godwin, depict this gallery of archetypal characters.  These are all fantastically employed by him and are on display for the show’s 80 minutes.

His mesmerizing, black hued scenic design has a basic table on which he conjures up many of the characters.  It’s complemented by screens on the walls for the shadow puppet representations and other images.

Godwin wears a slightly military black outfit, and a sliver skullcap that sometimes has antlers attached.  Occasionally he removes it revealing a shaved head and at various times he performs with a black hood concealing his head.  His fluid physicality and vocal pyrotechnics perfectly render a multitude of characterizations that loving recall the casts of clichéd B science fiction and detective movies. There’s a lot of deadpan and stentorian pronouncements.

Godwin’s delightful script co-written with Tom Burnett is an affectionate and rich amalgam of old movie conventions with a cheeky spin.

James Godwin’s puppets in a scene from “The Flatiron Hex” (Photo credit: Richard Termine)

Mr. Burnett is also the director and his precise staging exuberantly realizes the fanciful universe that is striven for. Burnett’s sound design and Jay Ryan’s lighting design powerfully contribute to this otherworldly dimension with their superior effects.

That’s reinforced by Michael Leonhart’s recorded, smoky trumpet playing which is strong component of the evocatively jazzy, incidental music.

In the category of unique theatrical experience, The Flatiron Hex is beyond category.

The Flatiron Hex (through September 30, 2017)

Little Shadow Productions

HERE, 145 6th Avenue, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit http://www.here.org

Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (412 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

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