Lula del Ray by Manual Cinema

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Lula del Ray
Published 09 Aug 2017

For all the praise that has already been heaped on Manual Cinema for the novelty, creativity and sheer imaginative chutzpah of what they do, it's not enough. For those who didn't catch last year's hit Ada/Ava, Manual Cinema's USP is to create, well, a cinema experience, manually. Using a combination of overhead projections, colour slides and human actors in silhouette—as well as a live band—they create a cinematic world right before our eyes. Technically, this is an extraordinary endeavour.

It's also a delightful aesthetic, the clunky lo-fi feel easily spanning the sweetness of young Lula's caravan home, to the meanness of the big city; from the bright stars of the night sky to the bright lights of a starry concert. It's here Lula runs to, having become infatuated with crooners "The Baden Brothers". The manner of production undoubtedly influences the style, but that's not too much of an issue. There's enough variety to keep this a visual feast.

But, perhaps, it's all a bit too much like the silver screen the team so ably usurp: all superficial sheen, but no real heart. That's not to say that there isn't pathos: Lula is a likeable, sweet character. But somewhere the story gets lost in the telling. Her motivations aren't believable. There's a slightly clunky point made which paints lovely Lula in contrast with the 2D pop stars she idolises. The conceit that some 2D projections are more equal than others isn't the epiphany maybe it thinks it is – a weak denouement looking for a route to an ending. And Lula's final transformation into an astronaut feels like a go-girl message which has neither been fought for nor won over the course of the show.